New Delhi/Kolkata: As a symbol of India’s “indebtedness” to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the Centre has decided to install a grand statue of the iconic freedom struggle hero at India Gate. Announcing this on Friday, ahead of Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the grand statue will be made of granite, and till the time it is ready, a hologram statue of Netaji will be put in place there. The PM added that he will unveil the hologram statue on Sunday, January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji. Netaji’s daughter Anita Bose-Pfaff, who lives in Germany, has termed this as a “nice gesture” by the Centre.
“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 will be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him,” Mr Modi tweeted.
Official sources said the dimensions of the granite statue will be 28 feet long and six feet wide, and added its installation will be a case of India “reclaiming” its history. The statue will be installed under a canopy that used to have a statue of King George V till it was removed in 1968.
The announcement came on a day when the Opposition parties criticised the government for its decision to put out the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and merge it with the immortal flame at the National War Memorial. However, defending the move, official sources said the flame was not being extinguished but only being merged with the flame at the National War Memorial.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said Bose’s statue at India Gate will inspire patriotism, self-respect and valour in the minds of Indians. He added that the decision to erect a statue was an expression of respect for Netaji by a grateful nation on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary.
“The statue will ignite in people the spirit of sacrificing everything for maintaining the independence of the country. I express my thanks and congratulations to the Prime Minister for this decision,” he tweeted.
Netaji’s daughter Anita Bose-Pfaff hailed the “nice gesture” by the Centre and hoped it will put to rest the controversy over the rejection of West Bengal’s tableau for the Republic Day parade. Welcoming the decision as “better late than never”, Ms Bose-Pfaff said it took her by surprise.
“I am very happy about the decision. It is very good location. 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,” Ms Bose-Pfaff said over the telephone from Germany, where she lives.
“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 the West Bengal government 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.
Ms Bose-Pfaff, the only child of Bose, earlier said the legendary freedom fighter’s legacy has often been “partly exploited” for political reasons.
In West Bengal, the Trinamul Congress welcomed the PM’s move to instal the statue but at the same time criticised the Centre for dropping the state’s tableau on Netaji and putting out the eternal flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.
Trinamul MP Sougata Roy said: “Installation of Netaji’s statue at India Gate is a matter of great joy. We welcome this. As a patriotic Bengali I will support and praise whoever takes any step to honour Netaji in whatever way. But I have a question. Why is the tableau of our state government on Netaji dropped from the Republic Day parade while his statue is being installed? Why was the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate doused while honouring Netaji? I fail to understand these contradictory steps.”
On relocation of the Amar Jawan Jyoti flame, Dr Roy said: “I strongly protest it. The Central government is playing with the history of the country. It started constructing Central Vista by demolishing buildings. Amar Jawan Jyoti was at India Gate since 1971 when we won the (Bangladesh) liberation war. But the way it is being removed is shameful. The Centre is trying to either wipe out or distort the history and heritage of the country.”...