To reclaim nationalism plank, Congress plans events on 50 years of 1971 war

(This story originally appeared in on Feb 22, 2021)

NEW DELHI: : With public projection of archival film material of the 1971 war and seminar talks about its geopolitical impact, Congress is set to take the memory of creation of Bangladesh to the smallest unit of the national landscape in a bid to use the golden jubilee of the iconic war identified with Indira Gandhi to revive its stock among the people.

Sources said the party has readied the blueprint of the yearlong celebration programmes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 war, overseen by an AICC committee headed by former defence minister A K Antony and comprising veterans like Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, former speaker Meira Kumar and convenor Pravin Davar. With the idea of ensuring a mass connect over the 1971 war, Congress will hold conventions in every district of the country.

The programmes would include seminars, lectures on the creation of Bangladesh and its importance in national security. At the same time the party will hold essay and quiz competitions to familiarise the younger generation with the seminal event. A social media blitzkrieg on the subject would form a major part of the exercise. Interestingly, Congress has decided that in states with higher concentration of ex-servicemen, it will hold conventions even at the block level — Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh.

For the party struggling to capture the national imagination after its eviction from power in 2014 and facing political onslaught of the ruling BJP, insiders thought of celebrating the 1971 war as a way of reviving its grassroots connect. The decision is an acknowledgement that BJP’s offensive against Congress, specially on nationalism, has worked and undermined the grand old party’s support among the masses.

The pitchforking of 1971 and mascot Indira Gandhi in the grassroots campaign is an attempt to retrieve the nationalism plank. The celebrations, to kickstart after the coming assembly elections, would wind up by September at the district and block level. It is in October that high-profile events in the form of state-level conventions would take place, and will culminate in a national meet in the capital on the Golden jubilee of the victory Day — December 16, 2021. Sources said former defence minister Antony has directed that ex-servicemen should be involved in the programmes in a big way.

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