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Netaji’s contribution to Gandhi led freedom struggle

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

By Praveen Davar

One hundred and nineteen years ago, on January 23, was born one of India’s most iconic political figures – Subhas Chandra Bose. Forty four years later, in 1941, he left the country never to return, dying in a controversial air crash on August 18, 1945. Many inquiries later, and with ample historical evidence available, the controversy refuses to die down. So obsessed have some people, including a few of Netaji’s relatives, become with the mystery and the INA saga that Netaji’s contribution to the Mahatma Gandhi- led freedom struggle has been completely forgotten.

This article briefly recapitulates the events from the time Bose came under the spell of the Mahatma as a youth leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) till he fell out with him in his second term as President INC culminating in his ‘great escape’, this month, exactly 75 years ago.

By the late 20s Bose, along with Jawaharlal Nehru, had become a youth icon. So popular were they that even revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, and Jatin Das were inspired by them.

After the death of C.R. Das in 1925, Bose gradually became the most popular leader of Bengal. He represented the rebellious tendency in the state, not just against the British but against the Congress central leadership as well. He was elected mayor of Calcutta (now Kolkata) defeating J.M. Sen Gupta, the nominee of the Congress high command.

While Bose was ideologically opposed to the rightist Vallabhbhai Patel, he was personally and politically close to the latter’s elder brother Vithalbhai Patel, a leader of Swaraj party founded by Motitlal Nehru and C.R. Das. Vithalbhai and Bose had met in a sanatorium in Vienna, where both were convalescing in 1933. When Gandhiji suspended the civil disobedience movement, they issued a strong-worded joint statement, the Patel-Bose manifesto, calling for a new radical leadership of the independence movement.

So fond of Bose had Vithalbhai become that he willed a portion of his fortune to him to be spent for the “political uplift of India and for publicity work on behalf of India’s cause in other countries”. But the will was challenged by Vithalbhai’s sibling, Vallabhbhai Patel as a consequence of which Bose didn’t receive a penny.

Meanwhile, relations between Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were growing stronger by the day. While Nehru was in prison in India, Bose travelled from Vienna to Badenweiler to be with Kamala Nehru, who was suffering from TB. He remained there till Nehru arrived after being released from prison. When Kamala Nehru died Bose was there to help Nehru and his daughter Indira (then 19) with the funeral arrangements. When Nehru told Bose that he was intending to set up a foreign affairs department in the Congress the latter was mighty pleased as that was entirely in consonance with his own views.

Bose returned to India in May 1936 and was soon arrested. Nehru, who was the Congress president, gave a country wide-call to observe a protest on May 10, 1936 to put pressure on the British authorities to release him.

Nehru’s second consecutive term was coming to end in 1937 and a suitable successor had to be found. As the masses were solidly behind the Nehru-Bose duo, Gandhiji with his foresight, decided to back the candidature of Bose. Though the rightist lobby led by Sardar Patel opposed him tooth and nail, the Mahatma declared that “there really was no one other than Subhas who deserved to become the ‘rashtrapati’ (as the INC president was addressed in those days).

The first term of Bose was a smooth affair with many activities aimed at setting up goals to see that “everybody – man, woman and child – is better clothed, better educated and has sufficient leisure for recreation and cultural activity”. Though Bose reassured Gandhians that he firmly believed in encouraging cottage industries, he felt, like Nehru, the need to embrace the idea of heavy industrialization. Nehru was away to Europe in 1938 but Bose wanted him back to take over as the chairman of the National Planning Committee, he proposed to set up for socio-economic reconstruction of the country when it became free.

In envisioning the future of India, both Nehru and Bose placed considerable importance on the position of women and sought to initiate measures by which they could be brought into the mainstream of the development process. One of the most comprehensive reports prepared under the aegis of the National Planning Committee was on women and their future in the planned economy of India. Proceeding along the guidelines suggested in the Fundamental Rights Resolution adopted by the Karachi Congress in 1931, the women’s report in the National Planning Committee spelt out in detail the existing social, economic and legal obstacles to the achievement of equal status and opportunity and advocated ameliorative measures, which were surprisingly modern and advanced. While Nehru, as Chairman of the National Planning Committee, was actively involved in its preparation, Bose shared most of its recommendations, without, however, being directly involved because of his preoccupations as Congress president.

The need to forge national unity on the basis of the advances made by scientific progress was a constant preoccupation with Bose. With a restless zeal and inspired by the example of Russia, which in a short while had progressed from “being a country of half-starved peasants to well-clothed industrial workers”, Bose envisaged an India where industrial progress could improve “the standard of living of the people at large”.

However, despite the enormous work he had undertaken in his first term, Bose was opposed for a re-election by the right wing of the Congress comprising Patel, Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad and G.B. Pant. Their choice was Abul Kalam Azad. But the Maulana considered discretion the better part of valour and refused to enter the fray. This pitted Patabhi Sitaramayya of Andhra against Bose. In a keenly fought contest, Bose polled 1,580 votes against Sitaramayya’s 1,375.

The re-election of Bose was a big blow to the right wing of the Congress, which had earlier stated: “Bose’s re-election is held to be harmful to country’s cause.” Mahatma however, admitted to his defeat, but with his characteristic humility, added: “After all, Subhas babu is not an enemy of his country. He has suffered for it.”

All this, and more later, would, however, not heal the wounds and prevent Bose from charting an independent course and, ultimately, sacrificing his life to realize his dream of Azad Hind. (IANS)

(Praveen Davar, a former Indian Army officer, is a member of the National Commission for minorities. The views expressed are personal.)

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Subhas Chandra Bose Didn’t Die in an Air Crash, Suggests French Report

The French government has always been silent on the issue, adding more significance to the findings

Subhas Chandra Bose and the mystery around his death
Subhas Chandra Bose with Mahatma Gandhi at the Indian National Congress meeting. Wikimedia
  • Paris based historian, J B P More, through a brief French secret service report came up with a finding that Bose didn’t die in an air crash and was alive in 1947
  • The French government has always been silent on the issue
  • The Indian government, supposedly ended the mystery some time ago, by replying to an RTI query

New Delhi, July 17, 2017: Seventy-two years since the report of the death of Subhas Chandra Bose, but the debate regarding the real timing and cause of his demise continues. Whether the plane crash story holds any ground or not, is still a mystery that is yet to be solved.

Three commissions were appointed by the government of India to resolve the deeply rooted mystery. Among them, The Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and Khosla Commission (1970) concluded that Bose died in an air crash on August 18, 1945, at Taihoku airport in Japanese-occupied Taipei, whereas, the Mukherjee Commission came to the conclusion that he did not die in an air crash. Although the Government rejected the claims of the Mukherjee Commission, this did not refrain the scholars around the world to get deep into the case to find the truth.

Recently, Paris-based historian, J B P More stumbled upon a brief French secret service report dated December 11, 1947, at the National Archives of France. He came up with a finding that Bose didn’t die in an air crash and was still alive in 1947.

Also read: Personal life of Subhas Chandra Bose generates divisive views

“It is not stated in the document that Subhas Chandra Bose died in the air crash in Taiwan. Instead, it is reported that Bose’s present whereabouts were unknown as late as December 1947, which again implies that the French did not buy the theory that Bose died in the air crash on August 18, 1945,” said More, who teaches at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Commerciales, Paris.

“But he escaped from Indochina alive and his whereabouts were unknown as late as December 11, 1947, as reported in the secret document. This implies that he was alive somewhere but not dead in 1947,” More added, quoting the report written for the “Haut Commisariat de France for Indochina” SDECE Indochinese Base BCRI No. 41283 csah Ex No. 616, under the title: “Archival Information on Subhas Chandra Bose.”

After Bose took off from Saigon on his way to Tokyo, the British and the Japanese too declared that Bose died in an air crash, but the French government always remained silent on the issue, though Vietnam/Indochina was a French colony during the 1940s.

Also read: 100 files related to Netaji declassified by PM Modi on his birth anniversary

Scholars have expressed their concern regarding the need for the findings in the report to be taken seriously. “Even though the Mukherjee Commission concluded that Bose didn’t die in an air crash, the government didn’t recognize it. The Centre’s idea to ‘declassify’ secret files on Bose may not help, But findings like this have significance,” said Kingshuk Nag, a noted journalist and author of the book “Netaji: Living Dangerously.”

Only some time ago, The Ministry of Home Affairs, India, supposedly ended the mystery by replying to a Right To Information query filed by Sayak Sen. MHA reportedly said: “After considering the reports of Shahnawaz Committee, Justice GD Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Enquiry, the Government has come to the conclusion that Netaji has died in plane crash in 1945.”

Now, Paris-based historian J B P More, with his findings, seems to have given a new shape to this enigma.

– prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Odisha pays tribute to 2 of its legendary sons Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Veer Surendra Sai on their Birth Anniversaries

Odisha on Monday celebrated the birth anniversaries of two of its legendary sons Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Veer Surendra Sai.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Twitter

Bhubaneshwar, Jan 23, 2017: Odisha on Monday celebrated the birth anniversaries of two of its legendary sons Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Veer Surendra Sai.

While the 120th birth anniversary of Netaji Bose was observed in a big way at his birthplace in Odia Bazaar in Cuttack, the birthday of freedom fighter Surendra Sai was observed at his native village Khinda in Sambalpur district.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda and others visited the Netaji museum in Cuttack and paid homage at the Janakinath Bhawan where Netaji was born on January 23, 1897.

Several functions were also organised to mark his birthday.

“Saluting the icon of patriotism, valour, sacrifice of one of the greatest sons of soil Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, on his birth anniversary,” tweeted the Chief Minister.

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Patnaik also offered floral tribute to Veer Surendra Sai’s statue inside the Odisha Legislative Assembly premises on the auspicious occasion of his 208th birth anniversary.

“I pay my heartfelt tributes to the great revolutionary, freedom fighter and leader of the people Veer Surendra Sai on his birth anniversary,” said the Chief Minister.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha chief Mohan Bhagwat visited Khinda village to pay tributes to the great freedom fighter on his birthday, said sources. (IANS)


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Declassified documents reveal Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s widow wanted an early solution to the issue of her husband’s ashes

Files pertaining to the time and life of Netaji are being released, in batches, and the records are being analysed thoroughly

Bose arriving at the 1939 annual session of the Congress. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 31, 2016: Declassified files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has been made accessible to the public on August 30, 2016 by Government of India. Last year on October 14, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi had made the announcement regarding declassifying the documents; when he met the delegation of Netaji’s family members at his residence in New Delhi. Since then, files pertaining to the time and life of Netaji are being released, in batches, and the records are being analysed thoroughly.

One of the disclosed records claimed that Netaji’s wife Emilie Schenkl wanted the issue of Netaji’s ashes, being brought to India from Japan, to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Pranab Mukherjee, the then external minister had met with Schenkl and Netaji’s daughter Anita Pfaff in Germany on October 21, 1995. Following which he wrote a signed memorandum on October 28, 1995 to late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao: “I feel that Netaji’s widow and daughter are keen that an early solution be found to the issue of return of Netaji’s ashes to India.”

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Subhas Chandra Bose with his wife Emilie Schenkl. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mukherjee further recorded in his Memo that “Anita Pfaff made it clear that while she would like to consult other members of the (Bose) family in India, the final decision will rest with her alone.” He further added:” she would prefer that the family is not divided on this issue.”

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Mukherjee also made a prediction in his memo stating: “There appear to be some sections of Netaji’s family, if articulated publicly, as sure it will be, may be used for partisan political ends.”

The declassification of Netaji’s files held by the Indian Government had resulted in baseless defamation of Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Indian National Congress, of which Netaji twice held the position of the President.

Mr. Satish Lambah, then Indian ambassador to Germany had accompanied Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to the meeting with Netaji’s wife and daughter, mentioned report.

Ashis Ray, a residence of London and a veteran Media person, stated: “I cross checked with Ambassador Lambah. Not only did he corroborate President Mukherjee’s description of the meeting, but said Mukherjee was welcomed with great cordiality, courtesy, respect and warmth by Schenkl, Pfaff, and her family.”

Renkoji Temple Tokyo japan. Image source: Wikimedia

Netaji’s ashes are preserved in Tokyo’s Renkoji Temple since September 1945. Schenkl, Netaji’s wife had passed away in March 1996 and Anita Bose Pfaff is now an economist in Germany.

The comments are revealed in a declassified document and can be read at –

– prepared by Usman Zafar from NewsGram. Twitter: @HalkiSiChuban