The rising fuel prices, handling of the second COVID wave and lack of vaccine availability are topics Banerjee will address in her speech
With her eyes set on a national pitch for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, West Bengal chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will deliver her first address on Martyrs’ Day after the Trinamool Congress’ resounding victory in the April-May Assembly elections.
What is the significance of Martyrs’ Day?
The speech, slated to be delivered at 2 pm today, marks the day in 1993 when 13 people were shot by police during a rally in Kolkata by the West Bengal Youth Congress, then led by Banerjee, to demand that voters’ ID card be made the sole document for voting. The protest established Banerjee as a political figure with a grassroots connect.
After she broke out of the Congress in 1998, Mamata continue to mark 21 July every year.
How will Martyrs’ Day be celebrated this year?
Banerjee’s speech will be telecast in screens across West Bengal and in other states, including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Delhi. The party has arranged for podiums, giant screens and translators for the live telecast, sources told The Print.
What is special about the Martyrs’ Day celebration this year?
This is the first time since its 1998 that the day’s celebrations will be extended to states which have a BJP government. Banerjee is expected to talk about the economy of the country and how she overcame the obstacles she faced in 2021 Assembly election.
The rising fuel prices, handling of the second COVID wave and lack of vaccine availability are also topics that will be addressed, according to The Week. “I would like to request my people to gather at their respective booths from 1 pm to hoist flags and pay respects to the martyrs. Please don’t gather in large numbers and maintain social distancing,” Mamata said.
Following the Martyrs’ Day event, Banerjee is likely to visit Delhi for four days in the coming week. She has said she is planning to call on President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “if given an appointment”, during her stay in Delhi.
Last year, Banerjee delivered an address on Martyr’s Day virtually owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is BJP’s response?
Meanwhile, the BJP’s West Bengal unit will also hold a programme on the day to pay tributes to the lives lost owing to political violence in the state.
Samik Bhattacharya, BJP’s chief spokesperson in West Bengal said the party will stage a protest at its headquarters in Kolkata and the election office in south Kolkata’s Hastings area.
The party will also put up posters of 38 of its workers who died allegedly due to political violence. Dharnas will also be observed in Delhi’s Rajghat where slogans of ‘Aakranto Manush, Biponno Gonotontro‘ (Persecuted Citizens, Endangered Democracy).