Mahatma, Subhas Chandra Bose were fond of each other
Although traversing divergent paths to
attain the country's freedom, legendary figures Subhas Chandra Bose
and Mahatma Gandhi were locked in affectionate bonds, with the Mahatma in
later years admitting the greatness of his ''adventurist son.''
On the other hand, Netaji, whose birth centenary falls
on Thursday, bestowed the much revered title of ''Father of the
Nation'' on Gandhiji in his famous statement broadcast from a
clandestine radio station in Burma in 1944, a year before he died
in a plane crash.
For Gandhiji, reconciling to Subhasbabu's sudden death at the
early age of 48, was excruciatingly painful and he took a long to
accept it, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi reveal.
In his ''heart of hearts'' maintaining that he was not killed,
Gandhiji ''intuitively'' believed that Subhasbabu was still hiding
in some unknown place and would reappear at an appropriate time to
serve his motherland.
Mahatma had wondered in 1945 how Subhasbabu could die when
swaraj was yet to be achieved. This conviction of Mahatma caused
much embarrassment to the British government and even some close
comrades of Netaji tried to convince him that Subhasbabu was
really killed in the plane crash.
Despite the sharp differences over the means to be used for
achieving independence for the country, Gandhi always adored Netaji
for his extraordinary valour and organising capacity, the memoirs
Gandhi wrote in the issue Harijan of (24-2-1946) that
''Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's patriotism is second to none.'' (I
use the present tense intentionally), he added. The Bombay Chronicle then wrote that Gandhiji still believes in his heart of hearts that Netaji is
Gandhi dealt the issue of Netaji's reported death in Harijan
under the title, 'Is Netaji Alive?'. He wrote, ''Some time back it
was announced in the newspapers that Subhas Chandra Bose had died.
I believed the report. Later the news was proved to be incorrect.
Since then I have had a feeling that Netaji could not leave us
until his dream of swaraj had been fulfilled. To lend strength to
this feeling was the knowledge of Netaji's great ability to hoodwink
his enemies and even the world for the sake of his cherished
But when close associates of Netaji like Captain Habibur
Rahman narrated the last moments of Netaji after the plane crash,
Gandhi reconciled to the fact that Netaji had left the countrymen.
He, at the same time stressed that, ''He is living with us in his
message and the ideals he placed before the world.''
In the eventful years of World War II, when Gandhi gave a call
of ''Do or Die'' and Netaji led the Indian National Army to make a
fierce assault on the eastern front, the British media tried to magnify
the differences between the two great men over the ''non-violent''
and ''violent'' means adopted by them. Gandhi, while outrightly
rejecting the suggestion that he was sympathetic to the Japanese,
chided the British media for its blatant hypocrisy.
When one of the soldiers of 'INA' asked Gandhi in 1948, what
would he have done if Subhasbabu had returned to him victorious,
Gandhi replied, ''I would have asked him to put away the weapons
and stack them before me.''
Interestingly this was the very instruction Netaji gave to
the fighting 'INA' men. Captain Shah Nawaz Khan told Gandhiji that
Netaji had asked 'INA' soldiers that in an independent India, they
would be expected to serve their country not by means of swords but
Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji differed on political strategies to be
adopted to achieve the goal of independence and at the height of
controversy, Netaji was forced to resign from Congress presidentship
Subhasbabu lamented that it ''will be tragic for me if I
succeeded in winning the confidence of other people but failed to win
the confidence of India's greatest man (Mahatma Gandhi).
The last words of netaji were: ''I don't think I will recover.
So when you go back to India, do tell our countrymen that I tried my
best to wrest freedom but they should continue their struggle until
they succeed.'' he uttered these to his colleague, Habib-ur Rehman.
A close associate of Netaji, P N Oak, in his book Two Years With
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, released in Bombay recently, recalls the different qualities of Netaji that made him a much revered
The great man, who struck to his goal with unflagging courage
and determination, died at a time when he was planning to begin a
new, unknown adventure in his epic -- a selfless struggle.
Netaji Subhas often used to declare that if and when he succeeded
in freeing India from British rule, he would immediately relinquish
mundane pursuits leaving his countrymen to manage their own
affairs, says a recently released book, History's Legend, Mahanayak Subhas Chandra.
The book is a compilation of observations, facts, truths,
mysteries and reactions on the life, times and death of Netaji
Subhas. Released to commemorate the centenary of this great man,
the book compiled by Netaji Subhas centenary celebrations committee
(Maharashtra) also points out his strained relations with some
P N Oak, one of the earliest to join Indian National Army
(INA), who was later closely associated with Netaji and organised
broadcasts from Azad Hind Radio, Saigon, Singapore, in his article
which is included in the book says, since Subhas was totally
disinterested in worldly pursuits and ambitions, a common
belief of political observers and lay public of those times that
Jawaharlal Nehru and Bose were rival contenders of political
leadership was basically wrong.
In fact, Netaji Subhas has repeatedly and emphatically declared
in his public speeches in East Asia that if the INA succeeded in
liberating India he would toss over that freedom to the people and
retire into spiritual oblivion.