Updated: October 20, 2015 8:50:44 am
I think it is obscurant to believe that Subhas Chandra Bose was in India, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, impersonating someone for 20 years. Nurturing such a notion will be a great insult to a revolutionary leader like Bose. Why would a fearless and valiant personality like Netaji impersonate someone to stay in his own motherland — and that too after Independence?
Those who are advocating such theories are unaware of his character and indomitable courage. Much is being made of the meeting between Netaji’s family members and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is good that the prime minister has decided to declassify the files on Netaji in January next year. But, I feel that there was only one objective of Bose’s family meeting the prime minister: To know whether Netaji indeed died in the plane crash, and if not, then to know what happened to him. It is legitimate on the part of any family to want to know about their ancestor.
My problem is with those who are giving wild interviews in the guise of authentic information. For instance, it has been claimed that a certain sadhu in Ayodhya or a particular man from Tashkent in Russia was actually Netaji in disguise. Someone says that he was in Ayodhya for 30 years; someone else that he stayed in Punjab; another that he lived in Bihar. One person says that he stayed in Germany.
The wildness of the claims can be gauged from an episode in which the supporters of Baba Jai Gurudev created a drama by declaring that he was Bose at Phoolbag Ground in Kanpur. Lakhs of people had gathered there, and, after the lie was exposed, thrashed the baba’s supporters. Claims about Bose must be supported with evidence.
The former RSS sarsanghchalak, K. Sudarshan, believed that Netaji lived in Noida. Ironically, even some Bengali families in West Bengal believe that Netaji is still alive — at the age of 118 — and that the government is hiding him — intentionally. What can be done to dispel such wild dreams?
Those who believe that Netaji has been impersonating someone and staying in India since Independence are also of the view that since he was against the Allied Forces in World War II, he had been declared a war criminal in accordance with the conduct and rules of warfare, and was liable to be arrested by the British authorities. This is an insulting proposition. Bose never feared British jails when India was under British rule. Why would he fear them after India had become independent?
Moreover, the British government would never have made any demand for Netaji’s surrender because it would have known that this would be impractical and impossible. People should refrain from propagating such illogical ideas.
In the recent past, there has been a campaign claiming that Gumnami Baba of Faizabad was actually Bose. Many letters and correspondences have been cited but nothing has been proved. But why would Netaji hide in Faizabad? Further, why would he not have met his family and relatives in Kolkata. Or why did he not establish contact with his wife and daughter in Germany?
I feel that the country should rise above such controversies and salute Netaji’s courage, valour and patriotism. We should take inspiration from him and his ideals and try to create many more Netajis in India.
The writer, a former Union minister, is a Congress Rajya Sabha MP
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