Last week, West Bengal government had directed the heads of all primary and secondary schools to observe the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in their premises.
Processions and commemorative events on Wednesday marked the sesquicentennial of Mahatma Gandhi in West Bengal, where parties cutting across political lines fought over the legacy of the Father of the Nation. Since morning various programs like mass prayers and processions were organised in various parts of state and the city to mark the occasion. A programme was held at the Gandhi Ghat in neighbouring Barrackpore. In several parts of the city several non governmental organisations along with children and footpath dwellers organised mock khadi spinning programmes and sang bhajans associated with Gandhiji.
Paying her homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary at Mayo Road here, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in an apparent reference to BJP leadership said the leader of the country should follow the Gandhian principles and take people of every religion and community along with him. “Not only us but the entire world has learnt from Gandhiji’s principles of non-violence, satyagraha and peace.
We(TMC) don’t want to advise others, but we will just say that the leader of the country should be like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi, who had led the nation by taking along with them people of all communities, castes and religions,” Banerjee said. She said the historic Gandhi Bhavan located at Beleghata area in the city where the nationalist leader had stayed during Independence 1947 to protest against communal riots in the city has been renovated and developed into a museum by the state government.
It was inaugurated during the day. Rare photographs capturing Mahatma Gandhi’s 1947 stay at Beleghata and articles used by him during the period will be on display at the newly opened museum.
The Bengal Congress unit took out a padyatra in the city and various parts of the state with posters and placards on Gandhiji to mark the day. West Bengal PCC president Somen Mitra, who participated in a march organized by the party from Subodh Mullick Square to Gandhi statue at Mayo Road in the city, used the occasion to lash out at the BJP government at the Centre over its proposal to update NRC across the country.
“Both TMC and BJP governments at the state and at the Centre respectively are unable to understand the principles and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. So they should stop pretending about respecting Gandhiji and his struggle. Only those (political parties) who don’t understand Gandhiji talk about about NRC, driving out Muslims and communal divide in the country,” Mitra told reporters.
Gandhiji had throughout his life fought for communal harmony. “But those in power at the state and the Centre are determined to destroy that harmony to serve their political purpose,” he said. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had on Tuesday at a seminar here asserted that the NRC is “a must” for national security and will be implemented but made it clear that Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist refugees will be granted Indian citizenship beforehand with the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Reacting to Mitra’s statement, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said Congress should stop behaving as if Gandhiji is the “personal fiefdom” of the Congress party. “Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation. Gandhiji is not a personal fiefdom of Congress party or its first family – the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“Since Independence they (Congress) had tried to create this impression as Gandhiji and Congress are synonymous. We don’t need to take lessons on Gandhiji from the Congress,” Sinha hit back. The BJP organised Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (cleanliness drive) on the day. TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the party has been at the forefront in the fight against communal politics and had opposed the implementation of NRC across the country.
Last week, West Bengal government had directed the heads of all primary and secondary schools to observe the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in their premises. The schools organised national flag hoisting ceremonies, rallies, cultural programmes and seminars on Gandhi Jayanti. Some schools also held programmes on Gandhiji’s thoughts on non-violence, peace, patriotism, communal harmony and universal brotherhood through events.
The heads of the schools have been asked to encourage the participation of guardians and locals in the circle-level programmes that will be continued throughout the year, a senior state government official said.