“Kingsway, or Rajpath, the symbol of slavery, has become a matter of history from today and has been erased forever. A new history has been created in the form of Kartavya Path,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday evening, while inaugurating the Kartavya Path (the revamped Central Vista Avenue) at the India Gate. He also congratulated the nation “for their freedom from yet another symbol of slavery of the British Raj”.
“Ghulaami ka prateek Kingsway, yaani Rajpath, aaj se itihaas ki baat ho gaya hai, hamesha ke liye mit gaya hai,” he said at the event. Referring to the statue of King George V, which once adorned the Grand Canopy, where a 28-feet statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was unveiled today, the Prime Minister said,“At the time of slavery, there was a statue of the representative of the British Raj. Today, the country has also brought to life a modern, strong India by establishing the statue of Netaji at the same place.”
”Netaji’s statue coming up at the spot where King George’s statue once stood, is like ‘Praan Pratishtha’ of a new India,” he remarked.
“On the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the country has received a new inspiration. We can now leave the past behind and fill new colours in the present,” he remarked on the occasion, which was attended by 1,500 people, including a host of union ministers, artists, diplomats, MPs and several state chief ministers, including Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Manipur CM N Biren Singh. Interestingly, opposition leaders and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were conspicuous by their absence.
Earlier in the day, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said she won’t be attending the inauguration ceremony of a Netaji statue in Delhi as she did not receive a “proper” invitation. “I received a letter from an undersecretary stating PM will inaugurate the statue today and you be there before the event commences. Am I their bonded labour?”, said Banerjee while addressing a rally in Kolkata.
Talking to the Express on the sidelines of the event, Nishith Pramanik, BJP MP from Bengal’s Cooch Behar, said, “I think the CM felt left behind in honouring the legacy of Bose. But she should have understood that honouring Bose is not about politics, but about nationalism.”
The Prime Minister said during his speech that Bose was forgotten after the Independence. He said, “Bose had a vision, he was brave. He used to say, India is not a country that will forget its proud history. The history of the country is in the blood of every Indian.” He added, ”Netaji’s statue at the Kartavya Path will become a source of inspiration… In the past eight years, we have taken decisions that bear the impression of Netaji’s ideals.”
Modi said that India is now moving beyond the mentality of colonialism. He mentioned the renaming of Andaman Islands after Netaji Bose, and also to rename the Race Course Road as Lok Kalyan Marg. “The Indian Navy has also adopted Chhatrapati Shivaji’s symbol and shed the symbol of ghulaami. These changes are not limited to symbols. These changes are a part of the country’s foundations,” he said, adding, “If India had walked the path shown by Netaji after the independence, it would have been a different story. But India forgot its hero.”
The Prime Minister said that these changes are not confined to the symbols but have also infused the policies of the country too. “Today, the country has changed hundreds of laws that have been going on since the British era. The time and date of the Indian Budget, which was following the times of the British Parliament for so many decades, have also been changed. Through the National Education Policy, now the youth of the country are being liberated from the compulsion of foreign language,” he pointed out.
The PM also highlighted that the Kartavya Path is not just a path of bricks and stones, “when people come here, Netaji’s statue, the National War Memorial will inspire people.” He added, “Today not only the architecture, but also the soul of Rajpath has changed. When ministers and officials cross kartavya path, they will be reminded of their duty towards the nation.”
As he entered the Grand Canopy Circle, the PM was greeted with chants of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose zindabad and Jai Hind from among the INA veterans in the crowd. The Prime Minister also inspected the Central Vista Avenue Project, which has 16.5 km of walkways, canals over the bridges, beautification of the lawns on either side, water in the canals, and old fountains that have been restored and retained.
After unveiling the Bose statue and inspecting the revamped lawns, the PM met shramjeevis who built the Central Vista Avenue and the artisans who were involved in sculpting the Bose statue. He announced that the shramjeevis who worked on the redevelopment project of Central Vista and their families will be his special guest for the next Republic Day parade in January 2023.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech said that along with social and digital infrastructure, India is also working on cultural infrastructure. He also said that in the form of Kartavya Path, the country is getting one more excellent example of cultural infrastructure.
“You will see the India of the future here. It will give you a new vision, new belief. For the next three days, a drone show will be held based on the life of Netaji. People come here in large numbers in the evenings. The planning, designing and lighting of the Kartavya Path has been done keeping this in mind,” he added. The PM concluded his address with chants Netaji Amar Rahe and Bharat Mata ki Jai.
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