KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress and the BJP on Saturday were engaged in a verbal duel seeking to appropriate the legacy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary ahead of the assembly elections in West Bengal.
While TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee kicked off the celebrations with a grand procession in Kolkata, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the city to participate in "Parakram Diwas" programmes to commemorate the legendary freedom fighter's birth anniversary.
As the BJP celebrated the day as "Parakram Diwas", the TMC observed it as "Desh Nayak Diwas".
Netaji's birth anniversary was celebrated on Saturday across West Bengal with several programmes held by the BJP-led central government and the TMC administration in the state.
Paying her homage to Bose at his ancestral home, Banerjee criticised the Centre for abolishing the Planning Commission, which, according to her, was conceptualised by Netaji.
"Why the national Planning Commission, which was conceptualised by Netaji in independent India, was dissolved? Why the demand for a national holiday on Netaji's birthday by our government was not yet met?" she said in her brief speech at Netaji Bhawan.
The Planning Commission, a government institution which formulated India's Five-Year Plans besides performing other functions, was set up in March 1950.
The Narendra Modi government disbanded it in 2014 and formed Niti Aayog.
Banerjee said that she would ask the prime minister why the plan panel was replaced with NITI Aayog.
She had said earlier this year that her government would come up with a Planning Commission-like body to take ahead the national hero's ideas and vision.
On Saturday, Banerjee also participated in a grand procession from Shyambazar in north Kolkata to Esplanade in the heart of the city.
"A monument, named after Azad Hind Fauj, will be erected at Rajarhat. A university named after Netaji is also being set up which shall be funded entirely by the state, and will have tie-ups with foreign universities," she tweeted.
PM Modi paid homage to Bose on his birth anniversary and said a grateful nation will always remember his sacrifice and dedication for its independence.
"Tributes to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a great freedom fighter and a true son of Mother India, on his birth anniversary," the prime minister said in a tweet.
Celebration of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary as 'Parakram Diwas' will inspire hope and national pride, Modi said at a programme in Assam.
Arriving in Kolkata from the Northeastern state to take part in the "Parakram Diwas" celebrations, the PM visited the ancestral house of Bose to pay his homage.
"I sometimes wonder how Netaji would have felt if he had seen how a new and strong India is taking shape," he said at a programme in the Victoria Memorial Hall.
Meanwhile, the BJP, which is being tagged by West Bengals ruling TMC as a party of "outsiders", left no stone unturned to mark the birth anniversary of Bose with pomp and grandeur.
Apart from taking out rallies in various parts of the state, the saffron party held multiple programmes to observe the Parakram Diwas.
On TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee's accusation that the Centre is not observing the birth anniversary of Netaji as 'Desh Nayak Diwas' as demanded by her government, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said, "We don't need lessons from her on how to commemorate the day."
The election for the 294-member West Bengal assembly is scheduled to be held in April-May.