Jaitley's comment on Netaji's 'death anniversary' raises storm

Jaitley's comment on Netaji's 'death anniversary' raises storm

Jaitley's comment on Netaji's 'death anniversary' raises storm

A tweet by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley turned into a full-blown political controversy on Thursday after he paid his respects to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his “death anniversary” on August 18.

A matter of utmost sensitivity, a large section of Indians believe the freedom fighter did not die on that day.

“Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an icon of exemplary valour and sacrifice. We remember and pay him our respectful tribute on his death anniversary,” Jaitley tweeted on Thursday morning. Although Jaitley removed the tweet soon after, the damage was done with Netaji’s family members in Kolkata and in other parts of India raising objection.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the first to react. “Today is Raksha Bandhan, I don’t want to hurt anybody. But shocked by @arunjaitley Ji hurtful tweet this morning on Netaji. We’re all hurt,” she tweeted.

Mamata declassified 64 files in the state government’s possession in September 2015 and has stood by the popular belief that Netaji did not die in the plane crash over Taiwan’s Taihoku on August 18, 1945.

The episode is among the most controversial chapters of modern Indian history, with political parties continuing to use the sentiments of Netaji’s large fan following across India.

If a section of historians maintain the leader died in the crash, widespread belief is he survived the crash or was not present when it occurred. Unlike most Bose family members, Krishna, wife of Netaji’s deceased grandnephew Sisir, and their son, Harvard historian Sugato Bose, have always supported the crash theory.

While Krishna, a former Congress MP, is now associated with Trinamool Congress, her son is a Trinamool MP.

“Any reasonable historian will say Netaji met his mortal end on August 18, 1945. We should focus on his life and his ideals,” Sugato said. Expressing surprise at Jaitley withdrawing the tweet, he said that the Union minister “should have remained true to his conviction.” Sugato’s relative and BJP leader, Chandra Kumar Bose, who lost to Mamata in the recent state polls, called Jaitley’s tweet “a mistake”.

Interestingly, Chandra Kumar, also Netaji’s grandnephew, said in a tweet on August 17, “People who support the plane crash theory without conclusive evidence, must be doing it with a motive.” Earlier on Thursday, he stated in another tweet, “It is the responsibility of the Govt of India to correct the history of India's freedom struggle.”

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