Mamata lets Left garland Netaji statue first

Kolkata: Nipping controversy in the bud, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday requested Left leaders belonging to the opposition to garland the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose near Raj Bhavan at the main function on the leader's 116 birth anniversary on Monday.

As per convention the chief minister garlands the statue of Netaji first followed by the council of ministers and opposition leaders to observe the day as 'Deshapran Diwas'.

The Kendriya Netaji Janmotsav Committee of which Ashok Ghosh, veteran of Forward Bloc, is the chairman was upset that it did not figure in the list of those who would garland the statue.

The matter also came up at the Left Front meeting on Saturday.

It was decided therefore that the Left leaders would go to the venue and garland Netaji's statue after the chief minister followed by her council of ministers did so.

The chief minister after reaching the venue took a seat among the audience instead of going to the dais.

Ashok Ghosh followed by Left Front chairman Biman Bose, CPI leader Manju Kumar Majumdar and RSP leaders Kshiti Goswami and Manoj Bhattacharya after their arrival were first invited to garland the statue, which they did one by one.

After this Trinamool Congress leaders garlanded the statue with the chief minister doing so the last.

For the first time, a parade was held by the Kolkata Police.

"Netaji belongs to all. This is for the first time that a parade was held by the Kolkata Police to honour Netaji on his birthday," the chief minister said.

The Left Front chairman said after the programme, "this political gesture was because of the controversy. This courtesy should have been shown earlier. But we are happy." Goswami said, "this is an exemplary political gesture (by the chief minister)."

Majumdar, however, told reporters, "you decide whether this is a political gesture."

Earlier, Bose and Ghosh greeted the chief minister who did not go to the dais with the Left leaders.