Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Bengal, today renamed the Kolkata Port Trust after Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the ruling BJP's predecessor Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
"Syama Prasad Mookerjee is a living legend, a leader for development who fought on the forefront for the idea of 'One Nation, One Constitution'," PM Modi said this afternoon he inaugurated the celebrations of 150 years of the Kolkata Port Trust, one of the oldest ports of the country. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave the event a miss, a day after she met PM Modi in Kolkata in what she called a courtesy call and asked him to reconsider enforcing the CAA, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register amid protests.
"Dr Mukherjee had set the stone for industrialization in India.... Chittaranjan Locomotive Factory, Hindustan Aircraft Factory, Damodar Valley Corporation and several other projects saw active participation from him," PM Modi said.
Invoking Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar at the event, he made a veiled attack at the Congress. "It's unfortunate for the country that after Dr Mookerjee and Babasaheb (Ambedkar) withdrew from the government, their suggestions were not implemented as they should have been," he said.
Often called the "gateway to eastern India", the Kolkata port is said to have one of the longest navigational channels in the world. "This port has seen India earn its independence. It has seen India's journey from 'Satyagraha' to 'Swacchagraha'. This port isn't just a port for traders... it has also seen a lot of legends pass through it. It represents industrial, spiritual and self sufficiency aspirations of India," PM Modi said describing its significance.
"Today, when the port is celebrating its 150th anniversary, it is our responsibility to make it a powerful symbol of new India," he added.
A stamp to mark 150th year of the Kolkata Port Trust was also released ahead of the event.
"Our government believes that India's ports are the opening gates to India's prosperity. For this, the centre has started the Sagarmala initiative to reduce the cost of connectivity," PM Modi said today, adding that about 575 projects worth over Rs 6 lakh crore have been earmarked. Over 200 projects worth Rs 3 lakh crore are already under development and about 125 projects have already been completed, he said.
PM Modi began his two-day visit to Kolkata on Saturday as protests against the amended citizenship law broke across the city. After her meeting with PM Modi, Ms Banerjee also joined a protest.
"The citizenship law is not to snatch citizenship, but to give citizenship," PM Modi said this morning as he began the second day of his Kolkata visit.