BJP wants to ‘Gujarat-ise’ Bengal, Congress will build tallest Netaji statue: Jitin Prasada

Subhash Chandra Bose, popularly known as ‘Netaji’, was the freedom fighter from Bengal, and is one of biggest and most prominent Bengali icons.
Jitin Prasada
Jitin Prasada

New Delhi: The Congress will construct the tallest statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in West Bengal if voted to power, and save the state from “Gujarat-isation by the BJP”, party leader Jitin Prasada said.

In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Prasada, who is the AICC in-charge for West Bengal, said the Congress’ pitch for the elections will be to “save the soul of the state”.

“The BJP doesn’t care for the culture and identity of West Bengal. It is evident in their past dealings. Why haven’t they made a 182-metre tall statue of Subhash Chandra Bose yet? If the Congress comes to power in West Bengal, we will make the tallest statue of Bose,” Prasada told ThePrint.

In 2018, the Narendra Modi government had built the ‘Statue of Unity’, a 182-meter tall statue of Sardar Vallabahai Patel, freedom fighter and the country’s first deputy PM. The colossal statue stands on Sadhu island on the Narmada in Gujarat.

Subhash Chandra Bose, popularly known as ‘Netaji’, was the freedom fighter from Bengal, and is one of biggest and most prominent Bengali icons.

This year, all eyes are on the crucial West Bengal assembly polls, slated for April-May, for which the Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left front have announced their alliance.

The Congress has announced a four-member committee, headed by state party chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, to hold talks with the Left parties to decide on the seat-sharing.

The Bengal elections have been the BJP’s prime focus, with the party saying that Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be visiting the state “every month for 7 days”.

Prasada said the Congress strives to protect West Bengal from “the ideological invasion” of the BJP.

“The BJP stands against the very idea of West Bengal. West Bengal has been known for its culture and heritage, and legends like Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Subhash Chandra Bose are examples of this heritage,” Prasada said.

But the BJP’s intention is to “Gujarat-ise” the state, he said.

“I am of the view that the BJP wants to Gujarat-ise West Bengal. They want to change its culture and lifestyle, its heritage. But the people of the state won’t allow it. And the Congress will fight to save the soul of the state from this political and ideological invasion by the BJP,” he added.

In the 2016 West Bengal assembly polls, the Left Front and Congress together had won 76 out of the 294 seats and about 38 per cent of the vote share, while the BJP had won just 3. The TMC had come to power with a thumping majority — winning 211 seats.

The Congress believes it will emerge as an alternative for the non-BJP voter, who stands against the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) as well, Prasada said.

“The TMC’s track record of various corruption charges is very visible and out in the open in West Bengal. The voters, then, will look towards Congress as an alternative,” Prasada said.

“The Congress has a very deep-rooted connect with the people of the state,” he added.

Prasada, however, dismissed the possibility of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s entry into West Bengal making any difference in the elections.

Owaisi will be contesting the Bengal polls, buoyed by the party’s performance in the Bihar elections where it bagged five seats.

Last week, Owaisi visited West Bengal and met with Peerzada Abbas Siddique, an influential cleric of the Furfura Sharif.

The Congress is said to have a stronghold in the Muslim-dominated districts of Murshidabad and Malda, which the AIMIM may potentially hurt.

But Prasada does not think the AIMIM will be able to do much damage.

“Muslims will not fritter away their vote and experiment with the likes and kinds of these people whose only job is to benefit other parties,” Prasada said.

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