NEW DELHI, Jan 10: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and four of his counterparts from the North East are a part of the high-level Prime Minister-led committee constituted to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from January 23.
Besides Sangma, the other chief ministers from the region in the panel include Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland), Biplab Kumar Deb (Tripura), N Biren Singh (Manipur) and Zoramthanga (Mizoram).
Netaji was, once upon a time, closely connected to Shillong, the then capital of Assam, and had earned enormous popularity among the people irrespective of caste, community or religion.
His tremendous influence on the youths of Shillong ignited their spirit of patriotism to join the freedom struggle, many of whom had joined his army, the Azad Hind Fauj.
In fact, Netaji had first come to Shillong in 1927 from Mandalay Jail to recuperate after he had lost weight abnormally. He stayed at ‘Kelsal Lodge’ in the European Ward (the present Oakland area) under the medical supervision of Pulin Bihari Dev.
It may also be recalled that Netaji created history when his Azad Hind Fauj helped by the Japanese troops attacked parts of Manipur and Nagaland and even liberated a portion in the former state. As a veteran Congress leader, he was also instrumental at an early stage to keep the North East in India, which was otherwise to be merged with then East Pakistan.
The high-level committee also has among other members, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Netaji had an association with Odisha, where he was born, and Bengal, where he spent a good part of his freedom struggle days.
The committee will lend guidance to the commemoration activities in Delhi, Kolkata and other places associated with Netaji and Azad Hind Fauj, in India as well as overseas.
Its mandate is to “approve policies/plans, programmes and supervise and guide the Commemoration of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, including preparatory activities”.
“It will also decide on the broad dates for the detailed programme of celebration, and its recommendations will be considered by the government for implementation, subject to extant rules, instructions and practices,” says the gazette notification.
The committee is likely to meet soon, as the date to start the celebrations is approaching.
Besides the Prime Minister, ministers and parliamentarians, the committee members also include distinguished citizens, historians, authors, experts, family members of Netaji, as well as eminent persons associated with Azad Hind Fauj.
Actors Kajol and Mithun Chakraborty, musician AR Rahman, cricketer Sourav Ganguly and Medanta chairman, Ravi Kasliwal are among the popular names in the committee.