Several rallies and events were organised in Kolkata on Monday to pay tributes to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his birth anniversary and the most crucial one was a gathering addressed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. Addressing a gathering at Kolkata’s Shahid Minar Grounds, Mr. Bhagwat said the RSS was working towards the same destination as envisaged by Netaji. The RSS chief said that depending on time and situations paths might differ, but the destination remained the same.
“Subhas babu [Netaji] was first associated with the Congress and followed its path of ‘satyagraha’, and ‘andolan’, but when he realised that this was not enough and there was a need for armed struggle, he worked towards it. Paths differ but the goals are the same,” he said.
There has been widespread criticism in political circles about the event with the Trinamool Congress and Congress leadership claiming that the RSS was trying to appropriate the legacy of Netaji. Netaji’s daughter Anita Bose-Pfaff who was in Kolkata recently also added that the RSS event was being held to “partially exploit her father’s legacy”.
At the meeting in Kolkata, where top State BJP leaders, including Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Akhikari participated, Mr. Bhagwat referred to a meeting between Netaji and RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1928.
‘Qualities of nationalism’
The RSS chief said that Netaji had said India is a smaller version of the world and according to him an individual personality cannot develop without ideals of nationalism. “We remember Netaji not only because we are grateful to him for his valuable contributions towards the freedom struggle but also to ensure that we also imbibe his qualities of nationalism,” Mr. Bhagwat said.
In another event at Manipur, RSS Sarkaryavah (General Secretary) Dattatreya Hosabale said the INA (Indian National Army) memorial situated at Moirang in Manipur was a pilgrimage centre of modern India. “His [Netaji’s] indomitable spirit and unforgettable deeds are ever-inspiring for all Indians. The memorial [Moirang] is a pilgrimage centre of modern India,” Mr. Hosabale said during his visit to the INA Memorial.
Mr. Hosabale said it was because of the INA’s great sacrifice and war against the British that crores of Indians were enthused to raise their voice against the British empire and attain freedom. “The Navy revolt of Mumbai was inspired by the INA’s movement and sacrifices made by hundreds and thousands of men and women,” he added.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also participated at an event to pay tributes to Netaji and blew a conch shell and sounded a siren to observe the 126th birth anniversary of the national icon. She said there was a need to highlight the documented history and not to tamper with history.
“On every occasion, we must highlight the actual history of India. We should not tamper with the history of independent India,” Ms. Banerjee said. Describing Netaji as the guiding light of the nation, the Chief Minister asked why the Planning Commission set up by Netaji had been done away with by the Centre.
Congress leaders also took a swipe at the RSS event in Kolkata. “The successor party to the one founded by S. P. Mookerjee claiming to be Netaji bhakts is laughable given what NSCB and SPM thought of each other — as revealed in the latter’s diaries. Netaji’s elder brother opposed the partition of Bengal — so ardently advocated by the founder of Jan Sangh,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on social media. At the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata, his grandnephew and historian Sugata Bose released a book on Netaji’s aide Abid Hasan and quoted from lecture by Netaji stating that “Jai Hind is the expression of our common brotherhood and belief”.
Several other events were also held in West Bengal to observe Netaji’s birth anniversary. Supporters of the Trinamool Congress and the All India Forward Bloc clashed over such an event at Islampur in State’s Murshidabad district.