Chandra Kumar Bose, the grandnephew of Subhas Chandra Bose, tells DH’s Soumya Das that Netaji had an inclusive ideology and sought to unite all communities and he can be shown respect only by following his principles and ideology.
Chandra Bose sees a chance for his party, the BJP, in the upcoming Assembly election, but he says it must stop merely criticising Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and come up with a roadmap for the state’s development.
Do you think Netaji is being used as a poll plank for the upcoming Assembly elections?
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a liberator of India. He united all communities, all religions, caste, creeds as Bharatiyas and formed the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army, INA) to fight against the British imperialist power. Netaji was certainly a political leader, but he was also above politics. He not only liberated our country but also inspired other nations in Asia who were fighting for their freedom from the British. Political parties certainly have the right to pay homage to him, but if they try to use him politically, people will rise against them because currently no political party has the integrity to be able to lay claim to Netaji’s legacy. First, they have to come up to Netaji’s moral standard. His commitment was toward the nation. He can only be respected by following his principles and ideology.
Is your party, the BJP, trying to appropriate Netaji’s legacy?
As I have already stated, Netaji is much above politics. If Netaji had not fought the British with his Azad Hind Fauj and if in early 1946 the trials of three INA officers were not held at the Red Fort, then India would not have attained freedom in 1947. So, I think the political parties of today don’t have the stature to appropriate the legacy of Netaji, but they can follow his ideology to unite the nation.
How did you feel about Mamata Banerjee’s reaction to the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan at the event at Victoria Memorial on Saturday?
I had the privilege to attend the function. It is unfortunate that the Chief Minister reacted adversely to a section of the audience who greeted her by chanting the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’. I think she should not have reacted adversely because after all it was a greeting. ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is not really a political slogan. It’s unfortunate that it has become like that. It’s also not a religious slogan. There is no reason for annoyance.
Sloganeering need not have been done at a programme on Netaji. Mamata Banerjee could have reciprocated by saying ‘Jai Shri Ram’ or ‘Jai Hind’ and continued with her speech. She had come to pay homage to Netaji. The audience was not important. I only hope that this does not happen in future.
Will the incident have repercussions for any political party in the upcoming Assembly election?
People are very sensitive about Netaji. If Netaji is being used as a political tool, I think people will not accept it. People will reject such political parties.
What is your take on the debate over the Centre celebrating Netaji’s birth anniversary as ‘Parakram Divas’ and the Bengal government’s demand for it to be called ‘Deshnayak Divas’?
A majority of the Bose family members have welcomed the central government’s decision that January 23 should be celebrated as ‘Parakram Divas’. Whether it is (called) ‘Parakram Divas’, ‘Deshnayak Divas’ or ‘Patriot Day’, that is not very important. It’s important to follow the inclusive ideology of Netaji to unite all communities, to fight divisive forces in the country, poverty and deprivation. We have not been able to achieve the India that Netaji dreamt of. Netaji wanted political, economic and social freedom. We have only achieved political freedom.
What did Netaji stand for as both the Right and the Left are claiming that his leanings were toward them?
Subhas Chandra Bose was a pragmatist. He was neither Right nor Left. He wanted a developed, strong Bharat. He was a pragmatist because although he took the help of Adolf Hitler, Netaji hated him. Hitler was a dictator and Netaji believed in Democracy.
But he realised that only the might
of the German empire can fight the British empire. He adopted the concept ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ and took the help of Hitler. Similarly, he
took the help of General Tojo of imperialist Japan because that was the pragmatic approach during the Second World War. He acted for the good of his country.
Do you think that like in 2011, Bengal is standing on the verge of a political change of guard?
Whichever party has been in power at the Centre has always had a stepmotherly attitude towards Bengal. Unfortunately, not much support has been given to Bengal by the Centre. The Left Front government did work in the agrarian sector in the rural areas, but they really neglected the cities. So, people wanted a change. Mamata Banerjee was given an opportunity in 2011. I think people wholeheartedly supported her. But, unfortunately, in the last 10 years, we find no infrastructure development, and no core sector industries have been set up. People are thoroughly disillusioned. So, people want a change. BJP certainly has a fairly good chance to form the government in Bengal in 2021. But I feel the BJP should stop just being critical of the Opposition and of Mamata Banerjee and we should come up with a roadmap for the development of Bengal.