KOLKATA

Mamata wants Netaji's birthday declared national holiday

rajnath-mamata-sonowal-salil2 Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Assam counterpart Sarbananda Sonowal | Salil Bera

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has demanded that Narendra Modi government at the Centre declare the birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as holiday.

This is for the first time Mamata has tried to take away the wind from the BJP, which has been campaigning in Bengal to unravel the mystery surrounding Netaji’s death.

Speaking at a party forum on Thursday, Mamata said if Gandhiji is the father of the nation, Netaji is the leader of the nation.

“I know central government has talked so many things about Netaji. If they care for Netaji, why don’t they declare Netaji’s birthday as national holiday. My government has already done that,” said she.

Chandra Bose, BJP state vice president and a strong critic of Mamata, however, supported her demand and said, “It’s a good proposal. But central government would have to do more to unravel the mystery.”

Meanwhile, Mamata held a one-to-one meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at her chamber. Both the leaders discussed the situation in Darjeeling.

Sources have confirmed that Mamata asked Rajnath to personally take stock of the situation and help West Bengal government book GJM activists who are allegedly involved in a series of explosions. She alleged that a section of the BJP leaders maintain a soft approach to all such leaders. Rajnath has reportedly assured the chief minister that he would look into the matter.

Mamata also asked Rajnath to replace the SSB in Darjeeling with either the BSF or the CRPF.

“Chief minister considers BSF or CRPF as much more efficient force to deal with Darjeeling situation. Home minister said since India-Nepal border is manned by SSB, he would have to talk to the prime minister to take a call on the mater,” said a source.

In the meeting, attended by a few top rank officials, Rajnath also put some requests to the West Bengal government. There are around 39 Rohingyas in different shelter homes in West Bengal. Rajnath has reportedly asked Mamata to initiate proceedings to push them back, to which the chief minister remained non-committal, saying “the issue is politically sensitive”.

Rajnath’s another request also did not get any commitment from the chief minister. The Union home minister wanted more land for around 89 border out posts in Bengal.

“We would like to add more strength to the BOPs and that would strengthen the border. But for that we need more land in rural areas,” a source quoted Rajnath as saying.

But chief minister could not give any commitment as land surrounding the border areas are all fertile. She also told Singh that her government has a policy of 'no forceful land acquisition'.

What drew eyeballs on Thursday was, not only Mamata, even the BJP gave its senior leader, a cold response. No senior leader was present at the airport to receive Singh. All senior leaders went to North Bengal the day when Rajnath, a former BJP president, reached Kolkata to meet seven chief ministers of the east.

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