Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Kolkata on 23 January to attend two programmes commemorating Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary.
In a six-hour-long trip, Modi will attend the valedictory session of a day-long seminar on Bose, titled ‘Revisiting the legacy of Netaji Subhas in 21st century’, in the National Library, and a light-and-sound show at the Victoria Memorial Hall. He will land in the city at 3 pm and leave for Delhi around 8.40 pm.
According to the organisers of the programmes, Modi will also be conducting an important meeting during an hour-long free slot.
The seminar — which is a joint collaboration between the culture ministry, Delhi-based INA (Azad Hind Fauj) trust, National Library, and the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) — will be attended by 150 selected invitees, including Bengali intellectuals and academicians.
Prahlad Singh Patel, the Minister of State for Culture, will also attend the seminar while the inaugural speech will be delivered by noted scholar and historian Purabi Roy.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not part of the invitee list as of now.
Banerjee is a member of the high-level committee led by Modi that was constituted to plan Bose’s birth anniversary in early January but she also did not attend the committee’s meeting to discuss the modalities and activities on 15 January in Delhi.
The committee was formed on 9 January and includes distinguished citizens, historians, authors, experts, family members of Subhas Chandra Bose and eminent persons associated with the INA.
Bose’s family members not invited to seminar
The invitee list to the seminar also does not include Bose’s family members, BJP leader Chandra Bose, and historian and former TMC leader Sugata Bose.
According to Chandra, he wanted to speak on Bose’s vision but was not accommodated for the same.
“I was called by a senior member of INA (Indian National Army) trust and was requested to speak on Netaji’s childhood. But I wanted to speak on his vision. I know nobody does that. We all speak all repetitive things about him, but none really want to focus on his vision and his ideology. I expressed my wish, but I am yet to get any confirmation as of now,” Chandra told ThePrint
Meanwhile, Sugata, a former Trinamool MP, confirmed to ThePrint that he was not invited to any of the programmes. He is also not part of the high-level committee despite heading the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata.
Anirban Ganguly, director of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Institute and member of the committee, said: “Sugata Bose is there on many committees related to Netaji. And he is allergic to Prime Minister Modi. So, there is no point inviting him. He leads a group of intellectuals against Modiji.
“People may have inclinations to different political ideologies, but persons like him compromised with their professional and academic responsibilities for political positioning. There are several other important members of the family like late Chitra Ghosh, who were never brought to fore. We will include such members of the family,” Ganguly told ThePrint.
Another prominent scholar Anuj Dhar, who has authored six books on Bose, including India’s Biggest Cover Up, has also not been invited to any of the programmes.
“I have no connection with the programmes organised by the state and Centre. I would still demand that the government should now acknowledge Netaji as the hero who freed India. Every year, naming a train or a stadium or a road after him does not do justice to the great icon,” Dhar told The Print.
“The death mystery needs to be settled now. No government is concerned about that. I would also say that the central government’s claim of de-classifying all files is a lie. There is still something hidden. So, I am not a part of this election politics. I want the hero to be acknowledged.”
Seminar and Victoria Memorial Hall show
The seminar in the National Library will focus on Bose’s life and legacy and will constitute three segments — ‘Subhash and India’s Freedom Struggle’, ‘Saga of the INA and its Supreme Leaders’ and ‘Philosophy of Netaji’.
The programme will host speakers from the US, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Singapore. INA veterans and scholars have also been included in the seminar.
Major General (retd) G.D. Bakshi, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, historian J.D. More, Professor Abhijit Choudhury, a scholar on Bose from Meghalaya, and Professor Nirban Basu from the University of Calcutta, will be delivering lectures on the subjects, said Arindam Mukerjee, director of ISCS.
Speaking to ThePrint, Mukherjee said, “We have invited the noted national and international scholars who will speak on Netaji. It is not a political programme. It is purely academic in nature. PM will attend the valedictory session.”
Meanwhile, the light-and-sound show in the Victoria Memorial Hall will include 130 members of the Bose family, including Chandra Bose. Several prominent people such as West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also a part of the high-level committee, will attend the show.
CM Banerjee has also been invited to the show but it is unclear if she will attend.