A tweet from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s handle on Thursday morning, paying tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his “death anniversary”, has drawn a sharp reaction from Trinamool Congress. Whether Bose died in the Taipei crash on August 18 is a matter of debate, even though that has been the official position of the Indian government for many years now.
The tweet, which has since been deleted, read, “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an icon of exemplary valor and sacrifice. We remember and pay him our respectful tribute on his death anniversary.” Trinamool supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responded on Twitter: “Today is Raksha Bandhan I don’t want to hurt anybody. But shocked with @ArunJaitley Ji hurtful tweet this morning on Netaji. We’re all hurt.”
Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Bose, who has joined the BJP and contested unsuccessfully against Mamata in the 2016 West Bengal polls, too demanded an apology from Jaitley. The mystery surrounding Netaji’s death remains a volatile and highly emotive issue in Bengal, particularly after two government inquiries concluded that he died in the air crash, while a third disagreed.
The debate intensified after the “secret files” on Netaji, which were recently made public, indicated that the Jawaharlal Nehru-led Congress government had spied on his family after his disappearance. In September last year, Mamata Banerjee made public 65 files on Netaji. The Centre too made public classified files linked to Netaji. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met members of the Bose family last October and assured them that he would seek cooperation from other countries — UK and Russia among them — in a bid to procure more secret files on the freedom fighter.