Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the Visva-Bharati University in Bengal on its centenary today, said its iconic founder Rabindranath Tagore’s vision was the essence of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” or self-reliant India. He also said called the university embodied Indian nationalist sentiment during Independence with the guidance of Rabindranath Tagore.
“Guided by Gurudev (Rabindranath Tagore) Visva-Bharati presented a strong image of Indian nationalist sentiment during Independence. Gurudev wanted entire humanity to benefit from India’s spiritual awakening. Atmanirbhar Bharat vision is also a derivative of this sentiment,” PM Modi said in a virtual address to Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan.
“Be it the Visva-Bharati University, Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Andhra University, Anna Malai University, and several others are premier institutions and came up around the same time, in the same era, and gave momentum to India’s thirst for knowledge. Today, as more and more people are getting a good education, we now have to work to build a strong and wise nation – one that is self-reliant. We must take inspration from all those who have contributed to making India great over the centuries and millennia. We must also keep in mind the India that our freedom fighters envisioned when they fought of our independence. That is why we are now at the stage to create an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”
The tribute to one of Bengal’s most famous sons is significant at a time an acrimonious campaign for next year’s election has seen the ruling Trinamool Congress and its main challenger, PM Modi’s BJP, fighting over the state’s legacy and biggest icons.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s Trinamool Congress accused the centre of “insulting” her by not inviting her to the event. The BJP, however, produced the university’s letter inviting the Chief Minister and accused her of insulting Tagore’s institution by not attending the function.
A debate has also cropped up over the Prime Minister’s attempt to highlight Tagore’s connect to his home state Gujarat, perhaps as a retort to Mamata Banerjee, who has repeatedly said she will not allow Bengal to be turned into Gujarat.