In PM vs Mamata Banerjee Over Netaji, Chants Of "Jai Shri Ram": 10 Points

The BJP and the ruling Trinamool Congress are engaged in a tussle over the celebrations of the 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

PM Narendra Modi with Mamata Banerjee at Victoria Memorial.

Kolkata: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose would have been proud of the way India is helping other countries during the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday in Kolkata as he raced West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to honour the Independence movement icon on his 124th birth anniversary. The PM and the Chief Minister made a rare joint appearance at the city's Victoria Memorial to launch an exhibition to honour Netaji but Ms Banerjee cancelled her speech after being heckled by supporters of the BJP with chants of "Jai Shri Ram". With West Bengal elections just a few months away, honouring Netaji this year has become vital for political points.

Here's your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story:

  1. The day to honour Netaji turned into a contest from the start with Ms Banerjee leading a 6-km march in Kolkata, from Shyambazar in the north to Red Road in the heart of the city and PM Modi attending three separate engagements.

  2. "Netaji put his life on the line for the country. He had dreamt of a strong India; from LAC (Line of Actual Control) to LoC (Line of Control), we are following his footsteps," PM Modi said in his speech at the Victoria Memorial.

  3. The Chief Minister, however, scrapped her address amid chants of "Jai Shri Ram" from the audience - a religious slogan that has ticked her off in the past - saying, "Government programmes should have some dignity. It is not fair to insult somebody whom you have invited."

  4. Before presiding over the inauguration of a permanent exhibition on Subhas Chandra Bose at the Victoria Memorial, the Prime Minister visited the National Library and Netaji's ancestral home in Kolkata where too he paid tributes to the legendary freedom fighter

  5. Hours before PM Modi arrived in Kolkata, Ms Banerjee attacked the centre for failing to declare the day a national holiday and build a memorial for the freedom fighter. "I protest the centre's decision to not yet declare Netaji's birth anniversary as a national holiday. You are building new parliament and buying new planes... why no memorial for Netaji?" the Chief Minister said.

  6. West Bengal and the centre have already clashed over the declaration of observing Netaji's birth anniversary as Parakram Diwas. The state government had requested the centre to declare it as 'Desh Nayak Diwas' as Rabindranath Tagore had bestowed the title of Desh Nayak on Netaji.

  7. Ms Banerjee's march in north Kolkata that began this afternoon was a show of strength and an effort to showcase the Trinamool Congress's efforts to portray itself as a party of Bengal, while it terms the BJP leaders who fly in as "outsiders".

  8. On a visit earlier in the day to Assam, which too will hold elections this year, PM Modi distributed land allotment papers to indigenous people and said, "...There are lakhs who did not have any documentation of their land. But now, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ji and his government have worked to ensure that people get their recognition."

  9. While the BJP is hoping to remain in Assam on the back of initiatives it has taken to develop the state, the party is looking to unseat the Trinamool Congress and is banking on PM Modi's campaign to swing votes in West Bengal. Home Minister Amit Shah landed in Assam ahead of PM's arrival.

  10. The All Assam Students Union (AASU) on Friday took out a march over their demands, including scrapping of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The AASU is in favour of repealing the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, and implementation of a report by a committee on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which safeguards constitutional rights of indigenous people.