Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's birth anniversary celebrations at Parliament House complex today remained a dull affair with only one sitting MP out of a total of 775 members of both Houses turning up to pay homage to the renowned freedom fighter.
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani was the only Parliamentarian along with three former members who paid tributes to Netaji and showered petals at his portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament. Advani, who remembers to pay homage to all departed leaders and makes it a point to attend such functions, looked lonely in the Central Hall today.
Among the other former members present at the function organised by the Lok Sabha Secretariat were Sheila Gautam, a former BJP MP from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh and Ram Singh a former MP from Churu in Rajasthan, besides CPI(M)'s former Rajya Sabha member Bratin Sengupta.
None of the Presiding Officers of both Houses, nor did any of the other sitting members turn up during the one-hour event. By convention, Presiding Officers lead such celebrations organised in Parliament House to mark the birth and death anniversaries of tall political departed leaders and freedom fighters.
Ironically, not a single MP or any former Parliament member from West Bengal parties, including the Trinamool Congress and Forward Bloc, which often publicly claim the legacy of Netaji, turned up for the one-hour event.
Today's event, however, was in sharp contrast to the last function organised in Parliament House to mark the anniversary of B R Ambedkar, which was well attended with Speaker Meira Kumar leading the event.
Lok Sabha Secretariat officials played down the poor attendance and said the Speaker was in her constituency Sasaram in Bihar, while Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha was away on a foreign tour and Lok Sabha deputy Speaker was unwell.
Admitting the poor attendance during the event, officials said, "some members may have paid their homage later in the day".
Lok Sabha Secretary-General S Bal Shekar and senior officers of the Secretariat also paid floral tributes at the portrait of Netaji.
A booklet containing the profile of Netaji, brought out in Hindi and English by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, was presented to the dignitaries.
The portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was unveiled by the then President of India N Sanjiva Reddy, in the Central Hall of Parliament House on January 23, 1978.