New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) The Forward Bloc has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to celebrate the birthday of its founder Subhas Chandra Bose as “Deshprem Divas”, more than eight years after the demand was rejected by the then Congress-led government.

Bose had quit the Congress and floated the All India Forward Bloc in 1939.

Calling Modi an “ardent admirer of Netaji”, the Left party, in a letter to the prime minister, requested that the day be renamed as soon as possible as January 23, 2019 would be the 123rd birth anniversary of Bose.

“His supreme sacrifice and love for his country are rare instances of noble quality that are found in the history of our freedom struggle. Gandhiji himself once paid the highest tributes to Subhas by mentioning him as the ‘patriot of patriots’.

“We have made many representations to the government of India and our MPs have raised the demand several times in Parliament to declare January 23 as ‘Deshprem Divas’. But the government of India is suspiciously reluctant to accept this people’s demand,” the letter written by the general secretary of the Forward Bloc, Debabrata Biswas, said.

In fact, last year, former Left leader Ritabrata Banerjee had raised the issue and demanded that “Netaji Jayanti” be declared a national holiday.

The demand was first raised in the Rajya Sabha in 2008 by Forward Bloc MP Barun Mukherjee, who had said the declaration of January 23 as “Deshprem Divas” would instill a sense of patriotism among the youth of the country.

However, in a letter written to Mukherjee in 2010, the then parliamentary affairs minister V Narayanaswamy had rejected the demand, saying many leaders had contributed significantly to the freedom movement and comparing them would be unfair.

The Modi government has recently gone the extra mile to claim the legacy of Bose.

It celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Azad Hind government founded by Bose in Singapore on October 21, 1943 by hoisting the tricolour at the Red Fort last year.

During his recent visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Modi had renamed three islands in the archipelago as Netaji, Shaheed and Swaraj.

“As you are an ardent admirer of Netaji, I earnestly request you to take immediate steps to declare Netaji Jayanti as ‘Deshprem Divas’ as his 123rd birthday is falling on January 23, 2019,” the letter dated January 18 to the prime minister said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.