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Bengal must lead the effort for better India by 2022: Kovind

Kolkata: Recalling the state's contribution to the freedom struggle, President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said that Bengal was in its forefront. With the country scheduled to celebrate 75 years of freedom in 2022, Bengal should lead in the effort for a "better India".
Referring to the Centre's Act East Policy, the president said that Bengal is crucial to the programme which is beneficial for the eastern and northeastern states as well as the neighbouring countries.
"The ambitious Act East Policy embarked upon by the government of India involves building connectivity projects and taking economic initiatives. These would be of mutual benefits to the eastern and north eastern states as well as to neighbouring countries. The people of Bengal are crucial to this programme," he said.
The President on Tuesday addressed the civic reception organised by the Bengal government in his honour at Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata. He was felicitated by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Speaker of the state Assembly Biman Bandyopadhyay and Mayor Sovan Chatterjee.
Distinguished personalities from the fields of industry, academics, culture and sports were present at the reception.
President Ram Nath Kovind was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gifted him one of her paintings here, which the president said would always remain "close to my heart".
The president also said the painting would undoubtedly make its way to the Rashtrapati Bhawan gallery in New Delhi.
The state was an industrial and manufacturing centre in the country. Its economy must "sing again" in this age of digital and robotic technologies. "Its green fields and hard-working farmers must be equipped with the latest agricultural knowledge to allow them to realise their potential," the president said.
Cautioning against the forces of radicalism and extremism, Kovind said West Bengal, being a border state, must guard against them.
Kovind said that Bengal has been central to the country's national identity. "Our national anthem Jana Gana Mana was written on the soil of Bengal by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore ... Bengal has a great history, but it is for each one of us to ensure that Bengal also has a great future."
Describing Kolkata as a "city with a heart" he said that he was deeply touched with the honour given to him in the city of "mishti, adda and football" where he would like to come back again.
Welcoming the President in his first visit to the state, Banerjee said: "We are deeply honoured for your presence here. I had invited you to come to Bengal…within a few weeks you have chosen to visit our state, and we are privileged."
She said: "The President's post is a constitutional one and it is the highest post in the country. He is our friend, philosopher and guide…when I worked as a Lok Sabha member, he was in Rajya Sabha…he would give us suggestions as and when needed." Stressing on the need for communal amity, she further stated that all communities live together in the country in perfect harmony.
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