PM Modi arrives in Assam, next stop is West Bengal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Assam a short while ago, after which he is slated to visit neighboring West Bengal. He arrived in the Northeastern state to distribute over one lakh land allotment certificates. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader will visit Kolkata later to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Notably, both states will go into polls soon.
Taking to Twitter yesterday, PM Modi revealed that the land certificates would be distributed during a program in Sivasagar. "We are committed to doing everything possible to preserve the rights and unique culture of the great state of Assam, (sic)" he tweeted. Sharing his post, the official handle of BJP's Assam unit wrote, "We welcome you with great honor and pride."
Notably, BJP, which is governing Assam, hopes that its initiatives will help it retain power. However, the party is facing resistance over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which aims to provide Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from neighboring countries. Residents of the Northeast fear that this law would legalize immigrants, effectively impacting the region's sensitive demographic.
On Friday, in a bid to register its disdain toward the citizenship law, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) organized several rallies. The outfit's General Secretary Sankar Jyoti Baruah said PM Modi is coming to make false promises to Assamese again. "We oppose the visit and Centre's forcible enactment of CAA," he said, adding that their peaceful protests were bulldozed by the police.
As per reports, an AASU rally in Tezpur turned violent when cops lathi-charged the protesters. A large rally in the state capital Guwahati was also blocked by police. Cops also launched a crackdown against similar rallies in Sivasagar and Dhekiajuli. Despite the administration's actions, AASU and other like-minded bodies had earlier declared they would welcome PM Modi with black flags.
While BJP is hoping to retain power in Assam, it is also looking to defeat Trinamool Congress (TMC) in neighboring West Bengal. PM Modi's visit to the state on Netaji's birth anniversary is hence being viewed as an attempt to woo voters. To note, the BJP-led Centre has also decided to celebrate the freedom fighter's birth anniversary as 'Parakram Diwas' every year.
Yesterday, PM Modi tweeted that he is honored to be able to celebrate 'Parakram Diwas' with "brothers and sisters of West Bengal." As per a government press release, he will head straight to Netaji Bhawan at Elgin Road upon landing in Kolkata. He will also visit the National Library to attend the "Re-visiting the legacy of Netaji Subhas in the 21st century" conference.
Naturally, the highlight of PM Modi's West Bengal visit would be the inauguration of a permanent exhibition on the freedom fighter at the iconic Victoria Memorial. A cultural program, titled "Amra Nuton Jouboneri Doot" has also been organized. Singer Usha Uthup will sing Rabindranath Tagore's 'Ekla Cholo Re' with a choir at the function. PM Modi will also release the book "Letters of Netaji."
At the program, a group of school kids will also perform on 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja,' the marching tune of Netaji's Indian National Army, also known as Azad Jind Fauj. A song Subhashji Subhashji will be crooned by singer Papon. Remembering the brave freedom fighter today, PM Modi wrote on Twitter that the nation would forever remain indebted to him.
महान स्वतंत्रता सेनानी और भारत माता के सच्चे सपूत नेताजी सुभाष चंद्र बोस को उनकी जन्म-जयंती पर शत-शत नमन। कृतज्ञ राष्ट्र देश की आजादी के लिए उनके त्याग और समर्पण को सदा याद रखेगा। #ParakramDivas— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 23, 2021
Like BJP, TMC has also made plans to remember Netaji today. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be steering a 6-km-long march in Kolkata. She also urged people to blow conch or do something similar at 12:15 pm today, the time when Netaji was born. Despite an evident tussle between state government and Centre, the BJP doesn't want political debates over the birth anniversary celebrations.
"In respect of Netaji, the BJP does not want any roadblocks. This will be a disrespect to Netaji. The state government is organizing its own function. We don't want to debate this," said Shamik Bhattacharya, the spokesperson for BJP.