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Child rights heat on Sugata

- Netaji gimmick complaint
Sugata Bose

Calcutta, April 21: One scion of the Netaji dynasty has complained to the Election Commission against another, for an alleged violation of child rights and abuse of the freedom fighter’s legacy for political gain.

Chandra Kumar Bose, a grandson of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s elder brother Sarat Bose, met state chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta to complain against Trinamul’s Jadavpur candidate Sugata Bose, also a grandson of Sarat Bose.

The complaint, lodged on behalf of The Open Platform for Netaji, stated that the Trinamul candidate has been using a child dressed in military uniform and posing as Netaji in his rallies.

“This, in the first instance, contravenes the fundamental thrust of the international Convention on the Rights of a Child which calls for the protection of children in all circumstances at all times…. Professor Sugata Bose is objecting a child to potential risks by parading him in military uniform in an election environment which tends to be volatile and at times prone to outbreaks of violence,” the complaint read.

Besides, the complaint added, the “contravention is compounded” if the child is meant to represent a soldier of the Indian National Army led by Netaji.

“We firmly believe that Netaji and his INA men and women are an integral part of India’s glorious legends and under no circumstances should be used for purposes of narrow party politics,” the complaint stated.

Trinamul sources said that children sometimes participated in such rallies “voluntarily”, with the support of their guardians.

“The gimmick was basically an attempt to add an element of cuteness to the rallies and it was all in good humour. The child who dressed up as Netaji was there for barely 15 minutes. There will always be some people who would find some baseless ground for a complaint,” said a Trinamul leader.

According to the principal complainant, Chandra Kumar Bose, son of Sarat Bose’s son Amiya Nath Bose, his cousin was “inappropriately” using Netaji’s clarion call “Chalo Dilli” to describe his party’s ambitions to capture power at the Centre.

“Professor Bose may be seeking to take undue advantage vis-a-vis his election rivals by attempting to project his family connection to Netaji, using it in his election campaign completely out of context,” he said.

The Harvard professor of South Asian and Indian Oceanic history could not be reached for comment.

Chief electoral officer Gupta said the commission was probing the allegation of seeking undue advantage.

“We will send the matter to the Nirvachan Sadan in Delhi, besides taking it up with the state’s child welfare department. The probe will have two aspects, possible violation of child rights and the model code of conduct, if any,” said Gupta.