Kolkata: As the rejection of West Bengal’s tableau for the Republic Day parade snowballed into a major controversy, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee informing her that the CPWD’s float for the occasion pays homage to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary.
In his letter, Singh hinted since the Central Public Works Department’s tableau already featured Bose, West Bengal’s float was not included for the parade, without saying it in so many words.
He also reminded her about the importance the Narendra Modi government attached to the iconic freedom fighter.
“Our government had celebrated in 2018 with great fanfare the 75th anniversary of the government Netaji formed in exile in 1943. It was our government which included the living soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) in the Republic Day Parade and felicitated them,” he said.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, Banerjee had expressed “shock” at the rejection of the state’s tableau, themed on Bose and his Indian National Army. The float also featured other Bengal icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo.
Banerjee, while urging the prime minister to reconsider the decision, said not doing that will cause “pain” to the people of West Bengal. She had said no reason was put forth for rejecting the tableau.
Anita Bose Pfaff, the only child of Bose, had said on Monday the legendary freedom fighter’s legacy has often been “partly exploited” for political reasons.
She minced no words while acknowledging the fanfare that marked the start of the 125th birth anniversary year celebrations of Bose in 2021 in Kolkata had something to do with the elections in West Bengal.
“…..the opening of the anniversary year was celebrated in a bigger way, of all places in Kolkata, had something to do with election and election prospects in Bengal. The fact that nothing happened this year….certainly the issue is not as important as last year,” she told PTI in an exclusive interview.
In his communication to Banerjee, Singh continued: “Here, I will like to convey to you that this time the CPWD’s float also pays homage to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary. All these facts bear testimony to the importance being accorded to the birth anniversary of the great leader.”
The defence minister said he hoped his letter cleared “all misgivings” the West Bengal chief minister had on the issue.
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