Paying rich tributes to poet Rabindranath Tagore by announcing a special train to popularise his legacy among the young generation, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee herself turned poetic, quoting Allama Iqbal and reciting a Hindi film song that made the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru cry.

To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore, Ms. Banerjee announced a special train - Sanskriti Express - which will run across the country. “Tagore is the only poet in the world whose poems have been adopted as national anthems by two countries - Amar Sonar Bangla in Bangladesh and Jana Gana Mana in India. Tagore lived and produced many of his literary jewels in undivided Bengal,” she told the House during her Railway budget speech on Wednesday.

She said the government proposed to run a special train in consultation with Bangladesh across the border so that the two countries could jointly celebrate Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary. Amidst heckling by the Opposition every time she announced a project for or new train from West Bengal, Ms. Banerjee read out from Aye mere watan ke logo…, a song by Pradeep and sung by Lata Mangeshkar after India-China war in 1962 that made Nehru cry. This was her tribute to the retired soldiers, whom the Railways propose to involve in strengthening the Railway Protection Force.

Ms. Banerjee began her two-hour speech with the remark hamara dard hamara dard nahi hai, hum apne saath hazaron ki baat karte hain (My pain is not my suffering alone, I voice the agony of the millions along) in a reference to the demands made by people across the country, and concluded it, quoting Iqbal: Khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdeer se pehle Khuda bande se poochhe bata teri raza kya hai … (Make your self-will so strong that before writing your destiny, God asks what you want written).

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