PM Modi. Photo: ANI
New Delhi: Ahead of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that a grand statue of the iconic freedom fighter will be installed at India Gate as a symbol of India's "indebtedness" to him.
Till the statue, made of granite, is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place, he said, adding that he will unveil the hologram statue on January 23, the birth anniversary of the Azad Hind Fauj founder.
"At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate. This would be a symbol of India's indebtedness to him," Modi tweeted.
Most of the opposition parties, including the TMC, welcomed the decision, but the Mamata Banerjee-headed party also alleged that the announcement was aimed at countering criticism after the rejection of West Bengal's tableau themed on the nationalist leader for the Republic Day parade snowballed into a major row.
In a statement later, the PMO said the installation of Bose's statue will be part of the year-long celebrations to mark his 125th birth anniversary.
Asserting that the installation of the statue will be a case of India "reclaiming" its history, official sources said the dimension of the hologram statue will be 28 feet long and six feet wide.
The granite statue will be installed under a canopy, which used to have a statue of King George V that was removed in 1968, they added.
The announcement came on a day the opposition parties criticised the government for the decision to put out the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate here and merge it with the immortal flame at the National War Memorial. Defending the move, official sources said, the flame is not being extinguished but is being merged with the flame at the National War Memorial.
It is ironic that people who did not make a National War Memorial for seven decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs, they said, hitting back at critics.
The hologram statue will be powered by a 30,000 lumens 4K projector and an invisible, high gain, 90 per cent transparent holographic screen has been erected in such a way so that it is not visible to visitors, the PMO statement said.
The 3D image of Bose will be projected on it to create the effect of a hologram.
During the programme on January 23, Modi will also confer the 'Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskars', for the years 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 in the investiture ceremony.
A total of seven awards will be presented during the ceremony, the statement added.
The award recognises the invaluable contribution and selfless service rendered by individuals and organisations in India in the field of disaster management, the PMO said, noting that it is announced every year on January 23.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh and a certificate in case of an institution and Rs 5 lakh and a certificate in case of an individual.
Asserting that it has been PM Modi's constant endeavour to honour freedom fighters in a befitting manner, his office said Bose has been a special focus of these efforts and several steps have been taken in this regard, including the announcement that his birth anniversary will be celebrated as Parakram Diwas every year.
In this spirit, Republic Day celebrations will begin a day early, from 23rd January, it noted.
Installation of the statue at India Gate will inspire patriotism, self-respect and valour in the minds of Indians, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.
"I gladly welcome the decision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to install a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate in New Delhi," Singh said on Twitter.
Netaji's daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff too welcomed the move, hoping that with this the controversy over the rejection of West Bengal's tableau for the Republic Day will be put to rest.
Speaking to PTI over the phone from Germany, she said that the announcement took her by surprise but she was happy with the decision, especially the location of the statue.
"I am certainly glad that his statue would be put up at such a prominent place. What surprises me is it came all of a sudden now. One might have prepared a bit earlier, but better late than never, I must say. I hope that the controversy about the tableau can also be put to rest in a satisfactory manner," she said.
When asked if she thinks that the decision was taken to end the tableau controversy, she said she is not in a position to comment on it.
"I don't know. Let's put it that way. Last year the centenary celebrations had started, and there were announcements that all sorts of things should be done. This committee (for celebrating Netaji's 125th birth anniversary) was set up, of which I am also a member, (the panel) never called a meeting. As far as I know, I haven't heard about it."
"Then all of a sudden, when West Bengal government had proposed to send a tableau, the central government turned it down... I do think that even if the decision came late, it is not a bad decision. It is a nice gesture in any case," she said.
The TMC, while appreciating the decision of installing Netaji's statue, alleged that it was aimed at countering criticism after the rejection of West Bengal's tableau themed on the nationalist leader for the Republic Day parade snowballed into a major row.
"As the rejection of West Bengal's tableau on Netaji has created a major controversy, the Centre is trying to divert attention. The decision to install the statue of Netaji is only aimed in that direction. But we welcome the decision. At the same time, we feel that the real tribute would have been paid had the government taken steps to unearth the mystery shrouding his disappearance," TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said.
Echoing Ghosh's views, party MP Sougata Roy said after the rejection of the tableau on Netaji, BJP's claim of respecting icons of the nation stood exposed. "We welcome the decision. But we feel there is no harm in allowing Netaji's tableau by the West Bengal government at the Republic Day parade. It was rejected due to narrow-minded politics. Now, as the BJP and its theatrics on the icons of our country have been exposed, it decided to install the statue," Roy said. In a letter to Modi on Sunday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed "shock" at the rejection of the state's tableau which is themed on Bose and his Indian National Army.
It also featured other Bengal icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the BJP is trying to "hijack" the legacy of Bose.
"The high-level committee that was formed to plan a year-long programme to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of the great leader never discussed any such thing. As there has been a controversy, the BJP took this shortcut to counter the criticism," he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress said it was pointless to debate whether the statue of Bose or the Amar Jawan Jyoti should exist at India Gate as there can be no comparison between those fighting for the freedom struggle and those martyred in the security of the nation.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party condemned any such attempts to debate comparing the Amar Jawan Jyoti and Netaji's statue.