In what can been seen as the latest addition of new trends in Bengal politics, Congres has promised to build the tallest statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose if elected to power in the upcoming State Assembly Elections.
The statue politics, that has dominated in other parts of India in recent years, is a low-key phenomenon in West Bengal. While political parties and organisations did erect statues, making it an election agenda was never on the cards here.
In an interview to online portal ThePrint, All India Congres Committee’s (AICC) Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada alleged that BJP was trying to alter Bengal’s culture and said that Congress would build “the tallest statue of Bose”.
“The BJP doesn’t care for the culture and identity of West Bengal. It is evident in their past dealings. Why haven’t they made a 182-metre tall statue of Subhash Chandra Bose yet? If the Congress comes to power in West Bengal, we will make the tallest statue of Bose,” Prasada said.
Accusing Congres of trying to “Gujarat-ise Bengal”, the AICC member further said that the Congres will save Bengal from this “political and ideological invasion” of the Hindutva brigade.
“The BJP stands against the very idea of West Bengal. West Bengal has been known for its culture and heritage, and legends like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Subhash Chandra Bose are examples of this heritage.
“I am of the view that the BJP wants to Gujarat-ise West Bengal. They want to change its culture and lifestyle, its heritage. But the people of the state won’t allow it. And the Congress will fight to save the soul of the state from this political and ideological invasion by the BJP,” he added.
Apart from dragging Bengal’s feet into the statue politics, Prasad’s statement has also made it clear that Bose – like many other Bengali personalities – will be a colossal figure in the battle of rhetorics between the parties ahead of the much-talked-about Bengal polls.
BJP has made a conscious effort to mould Bengal’s cultural and social icons into its narrative ahead of the election. The effort seems to be a deliberate attempt to appropriate the figures for its electoral benefit.
From Rabindranath Tagore to Subhash Bose, all have found notable presence in the saffron leaders’ actions and speeches.
About Bose, the Narendra Modi-led central government has already decided to celebrate his 125th birth anniversary with a nationwide celebration on January 23.
While Home Minister Amit Shah will lead the panel overlooking the issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Bengal on Bose’s birth date.
Mamata Banerjee’s government has also not fallen far behind. The West Bengal Chief Minister has formed a committee to observe year-long commemoration events for Bose. Like Modi, she will take part in a grand rally on January 23.
Meanwhile, Congress will contest the upcoming polls in Bengal in an alliance with the Left Front.