Intro : One of the most fascinating, loved, admired and respected icon of India’s freedom struggle, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is back in public domain. This has happened after declassification of papers from the Netaji files that tell a shocking secret–How the Congress government at the Centre under the leadership of nation’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru snooped on the family of Bose for nearly two decades.
Hindsight has strange ways of changing the way we see our pasts. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the socialist architect of 20th century India, the foundation on which modern India has grown and taken shape, has suddenly acquired the shades of Mr Hyde (of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), with latest revelations of snooping on his arch political rival, Bose. Using the state instrument of Intelligence Bureau, the IB, to spy on political adversaries, is not such a surprising thing to have been done by Nehru. What has shocked the nation is that it was done on somebody for whom respect has only grown in this country, especially amongst the generation that didn’t really get to see him at work.
Till now, we the Indians were made to live in a dilemma for decades with two options before us. Either, believes that Netaji died mysteriously in a plane crash on August 18, 1945 or that he lived longer, leading a secluded life, and would come back someday.
But, with the declassification of the selected documents, it has become clear how the Congress government at the Centre under Jawaharlal Nehru actively ensured that Netaji, even if he was alive wouldn’t get to return to India. It was a well known fact in the Indian political circles that Nehru perceived Bose as the ‘biggest threat’ as a competitor for the post of prime minister, due to the latter’s strong acceptability and popularity amongst a large section of Indians, especially the youth. It was Bose, a dynamic radical, who galvanised the youth wing of the Indian National Congress in 1920s and 1930s and became the party president. When he was re-elected in 1938, he had differences with Gandhi and Nehru (as Gandhi wanted to push his own candidate for the post, which received Nehru’s support), Bose quit the post in 1939 and floated the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) faction within the Congress.
Anybody who has properly read Indian history, especially between the lines, knows it well how historical facts at many places were twisted and distorted to make Netaji–a figure that should remain within the pages of history text books. And, it’s not Netaji alone. Many freedom fighters had to face a similar fate. One of the legendary freedom fighters, Veer Savarkar’s contribution was similarly relegated to obscurity. From 1947 onwards, Nehru-Gandhi family did its best to obliterate the name and memory of Netaji. In a letter to his nephew Amiya Nath Bose in 1939, Netaji wrote, “Nobody has done more harm to me…than Jawaharlal Nehru.”
Mahatma Gandhi chose Nehru as his political successor over Bose because he was uncomfortable with the latter’s push for complete independence. Having ruled the country for over six decades, the Congress introduced many such things in our system that reek of arbitrariness and authoritarianism–from getting incorrect writing of history, especially India’s freedom struggle to creating wrong perceptions in the minds of people against great personalities, who either didn’t belong to the Congress party or didn’t subscribe to Congress politics. They were branded as ‘lesser patriots’, ‘lesser nationalistic’ than their Congress counterparts.
The declassified documents reveal that Nehru placed the Bose family under intensive surveillance from 1948 to 1968. He ensured through IB that each and every letter that his family members wrote to one another, every movement of Netaji’s family members remained under strict surveillance because Nehru was not ready to believe that ‘Netaji was dead’.
The Congress was apprehensive of Bose because he was the only charismatic leader who could have mobilised a united opposition against the Congress, and offered serious challenge to the party in the 1957 elections. He was a real threat to Congress dynastic politics, which continues till date. The return of Rahul Gandhi from his ‘sabbatical’ and the way he has been propped up to lead the sagging party, is a testimony to dynastic politics practiced by the Congress.
The then Congress Government could stoop so low that they even shared the details of Netaji with the Britain’s secret agency MI5, which was nothing short of joining hands with the country’s enemy against it own freedom fighter. The Congress didn’t restrict its spying and snooping to Netaji alone. It extended the same ignominy to the family of Shaheed Bhagat Singh for several years.
The family of Netaji has hailed the decision of the PM and would meet him on May 17 and press for the declassification of secret files on Netaji lying with the Central and State Governments. “Modi is the first PM of India, who has taken such positive steps to unravel the mystery,” Netaji’s nephew Ardhendu Bose said.
Why was Bhagat Singh, who was hanged by the British along with Sukhdev and Rajguru, a threat to Nehru? At whose behest, did Nehru ask the IB to snoop on Bhagat Singh’s family? It’s yet to be found out, like many other mysteries surrounding the legendary Netaji Subhas Bose.
Closer to our times, Congress has meted out the same treatment to even an outsider from the family, former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. May be, the declassification of secret documents will reveal the truth someday. Thanks to our present Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has ordered the setting up of a high-level committee to decide whether to declassify the documents related to mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
The family of Netaji has hailed the decision of the PM and would meet him on May 17 and press for the declassification of secret files on Netaji lying with the Central and State Governments.
“Modi is the first PM of India, who has taken such positive steps to unravel the mystery,” Netaji’s nephew Ardhendu Bose said.
(The opinion expressed in this column is solely that of the writer–Nameless Indian)