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Was Nehru Afraid of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

RK Sinha, Member of Parliament, Author, Columnist

The world knows the role of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in the freedom struggle of India. But Jawaharlal Nehru always ran down Netaji, may be because of inferiority complex. On the other hand, Netaji treated Nehru as elder brother and always gave utmost regard to him.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru always felt insecure from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. But Nehru, even after Independence carried misgivings about Netaji fearing that he might resurface in India and threaten his position. With this suspicion in mind Nehru as Prime Minister unleashed detectives and intelligence agency to keep a tab on family of Netaji. It was at Nehru behest that entire family of Netaji in Calcutta was kept under surveillance. Till 1968, four years after Nehru died in 1964, Netaji’s family was under watch.

In 1957, Amiya Nath Bose, nephew of Netaji went to Japan. Nehru then called foreign secretary Subimal Dutta and asked him to direct India’s ambassador in Tokyo to keep a watch on Amiya Bose and track his movement in Japan. Not only that Nehru also wanted to know if Amiya Bose visited places including Indian Embassy in Tokyo where Netaji’s ashes were kept. Such was the fear in Nehru.

This was disclosed in the book ‘India’s Biggest Cover Up’ written by Anuj Dhar. Why Nehru was so keen to track the movement of Amiya Bose. It was because he thought by keeping a track on Bose he could know if Netaji was still alive and if so where he was.

Netaji, in 1928 had travelled from Calcutta to Allahabad to extend invitation to Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal Nehru for the Calcutta session of the Congress. He had gone to Anand Bhavan, the ancestral house of the Nehrus. Netaji always inquired about Nehru family. Conversation was not restricted to freedom movement only. Netaji would inquire about Indira Gandhi. He even wrote asking “how is Indu” when Indira was in Switzerland with her mother Kamla Nehru.

Hurt by Nehru

In a letter to his nephew Amiya Bose on April 17, 1939, Netaji wrote, “Nehru hurt me with his conduct. Had he been neutral in Tripura, my position would have been much stronger”. He further wrote that Nehru’s own standing had suffered. “Nehru was hooted and jeered when he rose to speak at the convention”.

Nehru’s opposition to Netaji was exposed further when Netaji with his Azad Hind Fauj was to enter Manipur via Burma from Singapore. Nehru then while addressing a meeting in Guwahati had said that he would fight Netaji in case he tried to attack and enter India to fee India by waging a war against the British.

In the Midst of Namdhari Sikhs

Netaji is one leader who is revered and worshipped by one and all in India although some historian tried to underplay the persona of Netaji. Take for instance, the Namdhari Sikhs. You will find Netaji’s picture and some books of Netaji in every household of Namdhari Sikh. It was in 1943 when Netaji came into contact with Namdhari Sikhs.

When Netaji was interacting with Indians in Thailand, he visited the residence of Pratap Singh, prominent Namdhari Sikh leader of Thailand. Netaji met many Namdhari Sikhs there and called them to join him in the freedom movement. People gathered there offered money and gold jewellery to Netaji; seeing that nothing came from Pratap Singh, Netaji remarked in lighter vein “So you don’t want our mother land India to be free.” To this, Pratap Singh said he was just waiting for others to donate so that I can donate as much money and gold to you. Netaji was overwhelmed and he hugged Pratap Singh.

Honouring Bapu

Netaji always revered and honoured Mahatma Gandhi. But he did not like the way Gandhiji favoured and supported Nehru. Netaji was not able to find out the reason and understand this affection of Gandhi for Nehru. Netaji believed that he could successfully lead the freedom movement against the British rule with Nehru. But Nehru never wanted to give place to Netaji. For Nehru, Gandhiji’s unflinching support was enough to sideline other leaders of the freedom movement. Nehru realised the tremendous popularity of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, not only in the Congress but in whole of the country. It was this reason that Nehru thought he would lose leadership to Netaji. Finally in 1939 Netaji and Nehru parted company.

The British Government too of the same view that Netaji was more popular than Nehru. This was stated by the Home Secretary in a communication to the British rulers in London on February 21, 1929.

At times I am surprised to find that seldom we talk or discuss Netaji’s fight for our working class, the labourers. From 1928 till 1937, Netaji was President of the Tata Steel Workers Union, for nine years at stretch. He used to raise issues of workers before the management of the company and often would get benefits for the workers of the steel plant in Jamshedpur.

In a letter written in 1928 to Tata Steel management, Netaji had written “I think there are very few Indians in managerial posts in the company. Seniors posts are held by the Britons. If Indians are given more place in the company, it would benefit Tata Steel”. It was after Netaji’s communication that Tata Steel appointed an Indian as Manager of the company. After giving the workers their dues in Tata Steel, Netaji again plunged into freedom movement. Nation pays tribute to this great Son of India.

(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)

R K Sinha

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