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PMO turns down CM’s Netaji plea

Patna, Sept. 1: Nitish Kumar is miffed with prime minister, Manmohan Singh for rejecting his proposal to declare the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as “Desh Prem Diwas”.

“It is really unfortunate that the Prime Minister has rejected my proposal to celebrate January 23 as Desh Prem Diwas,” Nitish Kumar told The Telegraph. “After all, Netaji's Birth Anniversary Committee set up by the central government had recommended it,” he said.

On January 9 this year, the chief minister wrote a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him to declare January 23 as Desh Prem Diwas. “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's patriotism has been unparalleled. Considering that I request you to take a decision to celebrate his birthday as the Desh Prem Diwas,” the letter read.

The letter also mentioned how the request by CPI general secretary, A.B. Bardhan, and his CPM counterpart, Prakash Karat, “for the same” was also pending with the prime minister’s office. “I thoroughly agree with Bardhan and Karat's proposals,” he said.

However, in reply to the Nitish’s letter to the PM, the ministry of planning and parliamentary affairs has rejected the request.

The centre’s letter to the chief minister said, “If at all a day is to be declared as Desh Prem Diwas, it does not appear to be appropriate to declare so on the birth anniversary of any particular personality. Even the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi has not been declared as any special day relating to the freedom movement in India. It is therefore not possible to agree to the request at this stage.”

But the chief minister's office is not convinced of the letter's argument. “We observe January 30 as the day on which Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 as Martyrs Day. The central government has given a lousy logic for rejecting the demand of the chief minister and several other top leaders of the country,” a CMO official said.

Netaji was one of several freedom fighters of Bengal origin who had strong followers in Bihar. Some of them are still active and still live on his ideals.

Ram Ekbal Wari who joined the Azad Hind Fauz when Bose visited his native place in Dehri-on-Sone in 1943, is one of them. He represented his home constituency Piro in the Bihar Assembly as an MLA in the past.

However, Warsi does not accept pension for working as a freedom fighter or an MLA.

“I am on a mission to liberate India from the clutches of poverty and corruption,” Warsi who lives what today’s politicians describe as a “utopian ways of life”.

“Accepting the money for serving the motherland or the people as their representative is a bigger sin than anything else,” he says.

In his 80s now, Warsi has refused to retire for he is still on the mission to “fulfil Netaji’s dream”. He brings out what he describes as a newspaper which he personally writes in long hand and his workers circulate its photo copies among the people of Piro and Dehri-on-Sone area of central Bihar.

Other Bengal freedom fighters who still have their die-hard followers in the state include Batukeshwar Dutt and Khudiram Bose.

In fact, it was the pressure and demand from Netaji's followers in Bihar, besides from Karat and Bardhan, that made Nitish request for the declaration of Netaji's birth anniversary as the Desh Prem Diwas.

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