West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she would not be attending the meeting convened by the Centre on December 24 to discuss ways to commemorate the birth anniversary of philosopher and revolutionary leader Rishi Aurobindo on August 15 next year, as part of the 75th Independence Day celebrations. Her decision came a day after Banerjee was apparently not given a chance to speak during a virtual meeting of chief ministers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The CM, who was addressing a meeting of government officials, academicians and prominent personalities, said she would have given her inputs if allowed to speak at the meeting chaired by the PM on Independence Day celebrations. “It isn’t right to politicise everything. I will not be able to attend tomorrow’s meeting since we have already charted out a number of programmes on Rishi Aurobindo already. Please write a letter to inform that I won’t be attending (the meeting),” she told Chief Secretary H K Dwivedi.
Earlier, eminent painter Jogen Choudhury, who was present at the meeting, protested against the “treatment meted out to the chief minister, and said it was an insult for Bengal which has made significant contributions to the freedom movement”. Poet Joy Goswami echoed similar sentiments.
The CM also decried alleged attempts to “distort” history at several levels, stating that “the younger generation should get to know facts, not twisted facts”. “Whatever be one’s ideology, history cannot be subjected to changes to suit his or her narrative,” Banerjee pointed out.
She said that a separate chapter chronicling all important events of our freedom struggle should be incorporated in school curriculum, further asking education minister Bratya Basu to look into the matter. The TMC boss stated that programmes marking the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi will be held next month.
She said all records and information about the freedom struggle in state archive, in police files and elsewhere will be digitised for public knowledge. This would also include dossiers about Netaji. A weeklong programme will also be held in August to mark 75 years of Independence. The CM asked the state officials to launch a project to earmark all places of significance during the Independence struggle and build a tourism circuit, while giving assurance that “funding won’t be a problem as we are all indebted to the great sons and daughters of India”.