How Subhas Chandra Bose was ill-treated in his own country
We are all occupied in searching secret files of Subhas Chandra Bose that have been released recently by PM Modi. So far these files have not solved the riddles surrounding his life and death. No conclusive evidence has emerged from the files about the certainty of plane crash and his death in Russia. This will continue to be a mystery especially when his associate Nizamuddin, who lives in Azamgarh, says that : Subhas Bose left him near a river in Singapore after the crash. And his testimony that Bose lived thereafter has not been considered.
The papers revealed that Government of India after Bose’s disappearance seemed lukewarm to get at the truth and even his ashes were left at a temple in Japan to cover up any further din on the subject. It needs no papers as history has enough evidence of growing distance and hostility between Subhas and Nehru. Subhas Bose was elected twice President of the Congress party, and Nehru and Gandhi never liked it. Bose had serious differences with Nehru’s approach that was more radical and infused with modern development ideas relying heavily on industrialisation, whereas Gandhi was towing a boat laden with Swaraj and pastoral economics. Nehru was too modern, but in this fight he remained less vocal to support Gandhi who finally saw to it that Bose felt suffocated and impatient for Independence. Gandhi advocated for the soft approach to even reconcile with British as he did in supporting World War II and Khilafat movement. Gandhi would have been content with even dominion status given to India by the British Government. Bose approach was to overthrow the British for complete independence and that led to his house arrest. Finally, he escaped the country and reached Germany. This was time of the second World War and one can marvel at his escapade that would have entailed a lot of ingenuity and imagination. After he reached Germany, he met Adolf Hitler and asked him for help to fight the British for getting rid of them to free our country. He raised Indian National Army in Germany to fight with British in India. Was this a small deed or a mere quixotic fight with castles? Raising donations and an army in a foreign country needed extraordinary skill as well dynamic thinking. When German went weak in war, he managed to reach Japan and raised an army to touch the coast of his motherland. It looks a fairy tale but it was the reality of an Indian hero that we did not acknowledge fully and rather made all possible efforts to assign it a background space. This disregard went to the extent that in children’s textbooks we reduced his mention and even omitted him in higher classes.
After exit of Bose from India Nehru took the command of the party and all the ideas of Gandhi were either ignored or given a marginal place. For example, Partition too was accepted against Gandhi’s wishes. We accepted the two nation theory, which was the greatest mistake resulting in millions’ peoples’ holocaust. Dr. Ambedkar thought it was absurd to bring Swaraj or Panchayat Raj in our Constitution. Even he gave in to Nehru’s views and finally a document was adopted in spite of reservations of many tall leaders like Prasad and Patel and others. Everything became Jawahar Lal’s show. It must be acknowledged that he was an astute politician who commanded high literary and holistic grasp of world view. But there was another jewel in the crown of nation that was squandered out by disregard and manipulative politics that eased out Bose.
There would be a lot of mudslinging on Nehru for his manipulation and disregard of Bose. Three commissions of inquiry did not bring out anything substantial to throw some light on the death of the martyr. On the other hand, Nehru’s letter to Attlee, the then British Prime Minister, informing him about Bose, calling Bose a war criminal, is hogging limelight. It is vindicates what Nehru’s stenographer said before Khosla Commission but it, did not give any credence to it. Nehru did what a politician would do to remain the sole inheritor of Gandhi and fight for freedom of India. Obviously he did not want to share the limelight with another competitor as a politician would do. It should be remembered that even Attlee acknowledged that Bose could unnerve British since army could revolt as many in army had sympathy for him. Gandhi was held in high esteem by all leaders and I find a lot of fault on the part of Gandhi who not only forced Bose leave the party and the country but also gave him no support. Gandhi could have moulded this genius for furtherance of the cause of the country, but he did not and preferred to lean on shoulders of Nehru.
The controversy is now hot and will not die. BJP will claim credit for bringing documents first time in public domain, whereas, earlier governments refused it. Instead of beating the drums it should restore the honour and memory of the great son of India in fittest manner.
By N K Singh
(The writer is former Chairman, International Airports Authority of India.)