New Delhi: Ahead of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that a grand statue of the iconic freedom fighter will be installed at India Gate as a symbol of India’s ”indebtedness” to him.
Till the statue, made of granite, is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place, he said, adding that he will unveil the hologram statue on January 23, the birth anniversary of the Azad Hind Fauj founder.
”At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate. This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him,” Modi tweeted.
Official sources said the dimension of the granite statue will be 28 feet long and six feet wide and added that its installation will be a case of India ”reclaiming” its history.
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The statue will be installed under a canopy, which used to have a statue of King George V that was removed in 1968, they added.
The announcement came on a day the opposition parties criticized the government for the decision to put out the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate here and merge it with the immortal flame at the National War Memorial.
Defending the move, official sources said, the flame is not being extinguished but is being merged with the flame at the National War Memorial. It is ironic that people who did not make a National War Memorial for seven decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs, they said, hitting back at critics. Installation of the statue at India Gate will inspire patriotism, self-respect, and valour in the minds of Indians, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.
”I gladly welcome the decision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to install a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate in New Delhi,” Singh said on Twitter.
Netaji’s daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff too welcomed the move, hoping that with this the controversy over the rejection of West Bengal’s tableau for the Republic Day will be put to rest. Speaking to PTI over phone from Germany, she said that the announcement took her by surprise but she was happy with the decision, especially the location of the statue. ”I am certainly glad that his statue would be put up at such a prominent place. What surprises me is it came all of a sudden now. One might have prepared a bit earlier, but better late than never, I must say. I hope that the controversy about the tableau can also be put to rest in a satisfactory manner,” she said.
When asked if she thinks that the decision was taken to end the tableau controversy, she said she is not in a position to comment on it.
”I don’t know. Let’s put it that way. Last year the centenary celebrations had started, and there were announcements that all sorts of things should be done. This committee (for celebrating Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary) was set up, of which I am also a member, (the panel) never called a meeting. As far as I know, I haven’t heard about it.” ”Then all of a sudden, when West Bengal government had proposed to send a tableau, the central government turned it down… I do think that even if the decision came late, it is not a bad decision. It is a nice gesture in any case,” she said. The TMC, while appreciating the decision of installing Netaji’s statue, alleged that it was aimed at countering criticism after the rejection of West Bengal’s tableau, themed on the nationalist leader for the Republic Day parade snowballed into a major row.
”As the rejection of West Bengal’s tableau on Netaji has created a major controversy, the Centre is trying to divert attention. The decision to install the statue of Netaji is only aimed in that direction. But we welcome the decision. At the same time, we feel that the real tribute would have been paid had the government taken steps to unearth the mystery shrouding his disappearance,” TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said.
Echoing him, party MP Sougata Roy said after the rejection of the tableau on Netaji, BJP’s claim of respecting icons of the nation stood exposed.
”We welcome the decision. But we feel there is no harm in allowing Netaji’s tableau by the West Bengal government at the Republic Day parade. It was rejected due to narrow-minded politics. Now, as the BJP and its theatrics on the icons of our country has been exposed, it decided to install the statue,” Roy said.
In a letter to Modi on Sunday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed ”shock” at the rejection of the state’s tableau which is themed on Bose and his Indian National Army. It also featured other Bengal icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo. Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the BJP is trying to ”hijack” the legacy of Bose.
”The high-level committee that was formed to plan a year-long program to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of the great leader never discussed any such thing. As there has been a controversy, the BJP took this shortcut to counter the criticism,” he said.
From this year, the government has expanded the Republic Day celebrations by four days and will begin from January 23 instead of January 24 to include the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The government has also decided to mark January 23 as Parakram Diwas to inspire the people of the country, especially the youth.