Subhas Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru: Admirers or adversaries? A myth buster
Subhas Chandra Bose has remained an emotive figure in Indian political discourse. Born on this day in 1897, Subhas Chandra Bose continues to be a symbol of assertive nationalism and is often contrasted with Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to paint a picture that shows the three great personalities in the light of discord.
However, beyond politics Subhas Chandra Bose admired both Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, and had very affectionate relation with them. In August 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India movement, Subhas Chandra Bose was in Berlin.
It is recorded that reading this news in Berlin, Subhas Chandra Bose told his close associate CN Nambiar that he needed to “be with Gandhiji”. It was around the same time that Subhas Chandra Bose was in the process of formation of Azad Hind Fauj to launch attacks on the British.
In his Azad Hind Radio message from Berlin, Subhas Chandra Bose had called the Quit India Movement of Mahatma Gandhi, the “non-violent guerilla warfare”. It was no coincidence that Subhas Chandra Bose had named two of the Azad Hind Fauj brigades after Gandhi and Nehru.
Another incident arising from the death of Kasturba Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi in 1944 shows how much Subhas Chandra Bose admired them. He issued a statement from Myanmar, then Burma, declaring Kasturba Gandhi, “a mother to the Indian people”.
In his radio address, while launching attacks on the British forces, it was Subhas Chandra Bose who called Mahatma Gandhi the father of the nation. In his last radio address from Burma in 1944 that Subhas Chandra Bose said, “Father of our Nation! In this holy war for India’s liberation, we ask for your blessings and good wishes.”
His relation was Nehru was more of a partner before he decided to quit the Congress instead of weakening it following disagreement over his style of functioning. The Bose-Nehru partnership saw a clear shift in the freedom struggle from equal rights to complete freedom between 1936 and 1939.
Nehru is said to have cried in public when he heard the news of plane crash and the death of Subhas Chandra Bose. This was the only occasion when Nehru cried in public. It was speculated that the confidential files pertaining to Subhas Chandra Bose would reveal the much anticipated bitter fight between Nehru and Bose. But when the files were declassified in 2016, it presented a contrarian picture.
The files revealed that Pandit Nehru got a trust set up with Rs 2 lakh in 1954 for financial support to Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Anita Bose. Nehru and then Bengal Chief Minister BC Roy were the trustees. In 1964, the Congress formed decided to extend an annual support of Rs 6,000 or Rs 500 a month to Anita Bose. (From 1947 till 1965, $1=Rs4.76)
Another interesting anecdote is this: Jawaharlal Nehru used to send Darjeeling tea bought of his own pocket to Subhas Chandra Bose’s wife Emilie Schenkl till his death in May 1964.
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