The family members of Subhas Chandra Bose on Sunday opposed the idea of conferring Bharat Ratna on the legendary freedom fighter, saying that figures like Netaji and Mahatma Gandhi were above India’s highest civilian honour.
The disapproval of Netaji’s relatives came after a section of media reported that Bose and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are likely to be named for the country’s highest civilian award. Speculation is also rife that educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya, hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, BSP founder Kanshi Ram may also be named for the honour this year.
The speculation has been fuelled by the Union Home Ministry placing an order of five Bharat Ratna medallions. However, downplaying the reports, a senior ministry official said, “ Ordering five medallions does not mean that five persons will be bestowed with Bharat Ratna. This is to keep adequate number of medallions in reserve.”
Protesting the idea, Netaji’s grandnephew Sugata Bose, who is also a TMC MP, told The Indian Express, “I still believe it is a speculation. But conferring Bharat Ratna on Netaji by putting him in the same bracket with some other people is totally unacceptable. People like Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose should be kept out of Bharat Ratna.”
Sugata, a Harvard University professor who has written a biography of the leader, wondered how Netaji can be given Bharat Ratna after 43 people have got it before him. “How can Netaji be given Bharat Ratna after Rajiv Gandhi? Anyone with a sense of history will agree with me,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Chandra Kumar Bose, another grandnephew of the freedom fighter, instead demanded that the mystery of Netaji’s disappearance be solved first. “When you award him with Bharat Ratna posthumously, you have to say when he died, but where is the evidence? The best way to honour him is to declassify government files which can reveal the truth behind his disappearance,” he told PTI, and added he had spoken to around 60 family members, none of whom was willing to accept the award on his behalf.
West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury argued, “How can Netaji be bracketed with people like Kanshi Ram?”
Netaji’s family for long has been pushing for a high-level probe into his disappearance. He went missing in 1945. The Mukherjee Commission which inquired into his disappearance had rejected the opinion that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.
— With PTI inputs