On most issues barring non-violence, Subhas Chandra Bose was on the same page as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and would have been ”embarrassed and pained” to know he was being used to diminish the two leaders, claimed historian Ramachandra Guha.
Speaking on the launch of the third edition of his seminal work ”India After Gandhi”, Guha on Tuesday noted that it was Bose who called Gandhi ”Father of the Nation” and wondered ”how did they (the BJP) manage to convert Gandhi, Bose, Nehru and Patel who all worked together into rivals”.
”On most things except non-violence, Bose was on the same side as Gandhi and Nehru. He would be the first person to be appalled, embarrassed and pained by what is going on, that Bose is being used to decertify Gandhi and Nehru,” said the renowned biographer of Gandhi. The 64-year-old author during the free-wheeling discussion gave telling examples of the respect and admiration Bose had for Gandhi, Nehru and vice-versa.
For instance, he revealed how when Bose started the India National Army (INA), he named his brigades ”Gandhi, Nehru and Azad (Chandra Shekhar), or how after Bose died in 1945, Gandhi made a speech in Calcutta – now Kolkata – and saluted his patriotism. ”Even on the question of the Congress presidency when Bose resigned … he said if I cannot get the trust of India’s greatest man – that’s what he thought Gandhi was — I would not continue as the president,” he said. Bose, who was appointed as the Indian National Congress (INC) president in 1938, resigned from his position in 1939.
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For the ”confused” critics of Gandhi and those claiming that it was violence that got India its independence, Guha said, it is important to know that every country in Asia and Africa that won independence through violence is a ”dictatorship” today.
”I think Bose is a great patriot, but the idea that he was in some ways greater to Gandhi, an alternative to Gandhi . . . I think you should read Bose himself to say what he said about Gandhi,” argued the historian of modern India. On the Kashmir imbroglio, Guha said India due to the ”petty party politics” of the Opposition missed two ”extraordinary opportunities” – one under Atal Bihari Vajpayee and another under Manmohan Singh – of somewhere coming close to a just resolution. He argued that mature democracy on important foreign policy questions should go for ”some bi-partisanship”, something that both the Congress and BJP failed as Opposition in 2003 during Vajpayee’s and in 2007 when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister.
”Those two extraordinary missed opportunities and you have to blame first the Congress and then the BJP for putting the petty party interest not just over the national interest but over the possibility of peace in South Asia,” he noted.
First released in 2007 by publishing house Pan Macmillan India, “India after Gandhi” is touted to be a magisterial account of the pains, struggles, humiliations and glories of the world’s largest democracy.