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Leaders of India's freedom struggle now caged in political battle between Congress, BJP

New Delhi: A political war has begun over national leaders now. After the Bharatiya Janata Party organised a grand national day of unity to mark Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birth anniversary, the Congress has decided to hit back by also celebrating Jawahar Lal Nehru's birth anniversary in a big way on November 14.

However, the decision could backfire as the party is still battling allegations that it can't think beyond the Nehru-Gandhy legacy, ignoring other stalwarts like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Ram Manohar Lohia and Subhash Chandra Bose.

Defending the party, Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said, "Sardar Patel was, is and will always be a Congressman first. His thoughts and policies are an integral part of the Congress. Jawahar Lal Nehru was the prime minister for a longer time, so his attachment with the Congress's policies, programmes will be that much more."

Despite denials, the neglect of others leaders has been evident at AICC meets where huge posters of Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi were visible, while others who played important roles in the freedom struggle including a former prime minister like PV Narasimha Rao seemed forgotten.

The situation is ironical considering that the Congress has positioned itself as a party associated with the freedom movement while the BJP has not. Union Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "If Congress thinks that Nehru is their monopoly then its wrong. Nehru would not have liked this."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's politics has made it clear that there would be no obsession with the Nehru legacy with some of the Nehruvian doctrines and institutions like the Planning Commission likely to be relegated to the dustbin of history. What is ironic is that leaders who were involved in the country's freedom struggle are now being caged in by politics over them.

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