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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 reveal.

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 alive.

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 goal.''

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 through non-violence.

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 in 1939.

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 person.

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 national leaders.

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.



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