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'Netaji was the reason why the British left India'

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf
Last updated on: January 27, 2016 23:30 IST
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Image: A visitor looks at a picture of Subhas Chandra Bose at a museum in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

'The non-violent movement would not have brought freedom to the country, that had to be an armed struggle.'

Chandra Kumar Bose is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's grand nephew.

After the Narendra Modi government declassified 100 files on Netaji, C K Bose joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, raising eyebrows why a descendant of Netaji, who was once a president of the Indian National Congress, would join a party that is opposed to the Congress.

C K Bose (seen, below left, with BJP President Amit Shah) spoke to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ about why he had joined the BJP and the controversies swirling around the declassification of the Netaji files.

Why did you join the BJP?

Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the first nationalists of India. I can say the BJP is a nationalist party. Joining a party obviously cannot be for one or two reasons, it has to be for multiple reasons.

They (the BJP) believe in nationalism and they are the first transparent government in Independent India.

January 23, when they declassified Netaji's files, was a historic day. It was Netaji's 119th birth anniversary. The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government started the process of declassification of the files.

Previous governments, mainly of the Congress, for almost 60 years never bothered to release the true story of the INA (Indian National Army and Netaji.

In fact, they worked tirelessly to suppress the true history of India's freedom movement. For the first time the NDA government has reversed the trend.

Earlier governments were governments of suppression and of defeat. The Congress government successfully distorted the entire history of the Indian freedom movement, which started from the 1857 sepoy uprising.

You will not find any mention of Bhagat Singh, Khudiram Bose, Mangal Pandey and even Bal Gangadhar Tilak. All contributions made by these national icons have been obliterated by the Congress party.

But we read about these freedom fighters in our history textbooks.

Just a mention, their contribution has not been properly presented in history textbooks. If you read carefully, the INA and Netaji's representation in history textbooks is only half a page.

Everybody contributed towards the freedom movement, but the final nail in the coffin was because of the INA and Netaji and the subsequent INA trial which was held at the Red Fort in 1946, which completely destroyed the loyalty and allegiance of the British (Indian) armed forces.

This is exactly why the British had to relinquish India, and these are not my words, but that of Lord Clement Atlee who was the prime minister of Great Britain during that time.

In 1956, Lord Atlee had come to Calcutta and he was residing with Dr P B Chakravarty, who was also chief justice of the Calcutta high court. Justice Chakravarty asked Lord Atlee why they (the British) left India after winning the Second World War.

Atlee said the British had to leave because (there were doubts about) the loyalty and allegiance of British Indian forces, that there may be a revolt within the British Indian Army. So they had to vacate India.

This truth is nowhere mentioned in any of the textbooks of the Government of India or the National Book Trust. Nothing is there.

Chandra Kumar BoseSo you don't think Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru got us freedom from the British, that the INA got us freedom.

Well, that is what Atlee said and this was corroborated by (the last British viceroy) Lord (Louis) Mountbatten when my father met him in 1976 in England. He said exactly the same thing. I am not trying to run down or play down anybody.

Definitely Mahatma Gandhi had a role. His role was (organising) a mass awareness programme. The people of the nation were not even aware we need freedom.

Gandhiji made people aware that we need to be free, but the non-violent movement under no circumstances would have brought freedom to the country, that had to be an armed struggle.

In the history textbooks it is written violent struggle. That is wrong. What do you mean by violent struggle? It is an armed struggle. That is the word.

Armed struggle was the final nail in the coffin and that was the final onslaught which drove the British out of India.

What has the country achieved since the secret files on Netaji were declassified? Do we know how Netaji died?

The issue is not about his death. The issue is about his life and dying after August 18, 1945. That is what we want to unravel.

About 100 files have come out from the 1,000 files which were classified. We have to wait and watch. But there are crucial links that have come out of these files.

One is the 1962 letter written by Nehru to Suresh Chandra Bose, Netaji's elder brother, who was a member of the Shahnawaz Committee (investigating Netaji's death).

Here, Nehru clearly states that, 'Yes, there is no conclusive evidence to establish Netaji's death in a plane crash. There is only circumstantial evidence.'

So even Nehru never believed in the air crash (theory) although in Parliament he stated that Bose died in an air crash.

There seems to be lot of inconsistencies in the plane crash theory. In fact, there is more evidence to debunk it.

Do you think Nehru was insecure because he felt had Netaji returned to India he may have become prime minister?

His action indicates that. I don't want to make a statement on that. His action indicates that he was nervous because he kept surveillance on Netaji's entire family.

Family members of Netaji were not in public life and they were no threat to Nehru and his government. He was obviously trying to track Bose.

He knew he (Bose) was alive, but did not know his exact location. He was under the impression that Bose would get in touch with his family if he wanted to come back to India.

If Netaji was alive, why was he in hiding?

How do you know he was in hiding? The theories that are doing the rounds have not established conclusively that any of the theories are correct. That is why declassification. That is why the entire movement for declassification. Let us now wait and watch.

The NDA government is trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. The earlier governments were trying to suppress and mislead the people.

How will you make a difference to the BJP's prospects in West Bengal?

I have joined public life to make my contribution. It would be unfair if hailing from Netaji's family I don't contribute something to the nation.

I thought the BJP is the right party to join. It is a nationalist party. It is trying to bring out the truth of what happened to Bose. It is an inclusive party.

The ideals of the BJP are based on Swami Vivekananda, Bose and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. This is the best party to join.

Coming to power in West Bengal, it is an election procedure. You see, we have to highlight what we can offer the people of West Bengal and that process is on.

People have seen 34 years of misrule of the Left Front, they have seen the last five years of the Mamata Banerjee government. It is time they give the BJP a chance.

You spoke of the BJP being inclusive, but people talk about growing intolerance under the Narendra Modi regime. What do you have to say about it?

A national party like the BJP has all kinds of people. The central issue is to take everybody forward and be inclusive, maintain communal harmony, tolerance, which was primary to Bose's ideology.

Now the BJP has accepted Netaji's ideology as part of its ideology. I am sure tolerance and harmony would be the top priority on the BJP's agenda now.

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf /