March 15, 2022

PTI Fact Check: Proposed Bose statue in India Gate not first, Delhi has kept Netaji legacy alive

Photo Caption: Ensemble statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose flanked by his INA compatriots at the Netaji Subhash Park in Old Delhi (PTI Photo)

 New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI Fact Check) A statue of Subhas Chandra Bose to be installed in the canopy facing India Gate will not be the first in India’s capital, as has been widely claimed in social media.

In fact, Delhi has several metal and bronze representations of the freedom fighter, and many streets and parks named after him.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said ahead of Bose’s 125th anniversary in January that a "grand statue" of Netaji, as Bose was often referred to, would be placed in the canopy as a symbol of India's "indebtedness" to him. The announcement immediately led to claims, including in a leading English daily, that this would be Delhi's first Netaji statue.
Almost two months later, the discussion continues on social media platforms and elsewhere, particularly in focussed groups on British-era history and heritage.
The fact is that Delhi is home to at least two statues of the leader - an ensemble statue of Netaji and his Indian National Army (INA) compatriots mounted on a pedestal in the heritage Subhas Park near Red Fort, and another statute in Parliament House.
The five-tonne statue in Subhas Park, originally named Edward Park after King Edward VII, was unveiled on Bose’s birth anniversary on January 23, 1975 by then vice president B D Jatti. The sculpture was made by artist Sadashiv Sathe.
The second stands tall in the Parliament House complex. It was unveiled by then president Shankar Dayal Sharma on January 23 in the 50th year of India's Independence in 1997.
"Between Gate No. 5 and the Central Hall, near the Prime Minister's Office in 
Parliament House, is installed a magnificent bronze statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, one of the outstanding leaders of our freedom movement and a revolutionary par excellence,"  states the Rajya Sabha website.
Sculpted by Kartick Chandra Paul, it was donated by the government of West Bengal.
According to historian Swapna Liddle, Netaji’s legacy has been commemorated over the years in the city with many areas named after him, including Netaji Nagar, Subhas Nagar, Netaji Subhas Place and the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT).
A Delhi Metro station on the Red Line has been named after him. A Bose bust has been placed in the Netaji Subhas Place commercial arcade in Pitampura area in northwest Delhi.
According to the NSIT website, a statue of Bose stands in the premises of the institution too.  
"Public memory of Subhas Park has faded, because we tend to give much more importance to Lutyens' Delhi than, say, old Delhi. Subhas Park should have been celebrated the same way, we admire India Gate complex. His majestic statue in the park, faces the Red Fort and neighbours Jama Masjid, and that makes it quite a prominent place," Liddle, the author of "Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi', told PTI.
Asked if there are other big Netaji statues in Delhi besides the two large ones, the historian, who recently shared a list of places in Delhi bearing Bose's name on Facebook, said she was not aware of it.
Clearly, Netaji and his legacy still play on the minds of people and policy-makers.
Last week, on March 9, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), which owns Subhas Park, cleared a proposal to rename a park in northwest Delhi's Sultanpuri after Bose.
The renaming of over 40 public sites, including parks and streets, after various personalities, including freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh and Bose, were approved by the NDMC House in its meeting on March 9.
King Edward’s statue, sculpted in England by renowned artist Sir Thomas Brock, was removed from the rechristened Subhas Park in 1968, and eventually sent to Toronto in Canada, and Netaji's statue installed later in its place. The park was renamed after Independence, giving the site a whole new nationalist identity.
The canopy in the India Gate complex has a similar history. It was built as a memorial to King George V, the son of King Edward VII, after his death in 1936 and housed a majestic statue of the king. In 1968, the statue of the British monarch was removed and the canopy has been empty ever since.
The statue currently sits in the grounds where his coronation durbar was held in December 1911 in Delhi. 

CLAIM: A statue of Subhas Chandra Bose to be installed in the canopy facing India Gate is the first in Delhi.

FACT: Delhi is home to at least two statues of the leader. His legacy has also been commemorated over the years in the city with many areas named after him.

CONCLUSION: The claim that Bose’s proposed statue in India Gate will be the first is ‘false’.

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