The Big Bose

“People do not give up politics by facts.”: Kumar Ketkar

As the third day of Tata Literature Live Mumbai Fest 2019 commences, Title Waves, Bandra, saw an interesting tryst with history. Starting at 10:30 am on a Saturday morning, panelists Ashis Ray, Kumar Ketkar, Vishwas Patil, chaired by Sidharth Bhatia engaged in an hour-long discussion on “Bigg Bose: Netaji’s Complicated Legacy”. 

Although the book store wasn’t packed, the panelists appeared eager to begin just as Bhatia shrewdly observed it as a “timely event” as the government had revived speculations about Bose few months ago.  Ashis Ray who published a book recently on Netaji’s “simple and tragic plane crash” naming it ‘Laid to Rest’, opens the discussion unto the politics surrounding Bose. Even after 70 years after the crash, the mysterious circumstances of Subhas Chandra Bose’s “death” is still rife. His alleged remains rest in Renko-ji Temple in Tokyo which his daughter is pleading the Government of India to bring back. Anita Bose Pfaff’s requests turned out to be Ray’s major inspiration for penning the book. “There’s no reason for our Government to not bring the remains back but there’s no political mileage in that now. One could only speculate what guided Modi to declassify the files”, says the author. 

Ray’s candid remark on the present politics in India regarding the files induced a few chuckles from the audience. “Nehru did the dirty to Bose. Some gang told Modi in 2015 and eyewitness suggest, he was salivating.” The entire campaign however, against him regarding Bose dispersed when evidence suggested otherwise. Kumar Ketkar elaborates that “People do not give up politics by facts. Nehru bashing is indeed a favorite of some.” He is of the opinion that Bose’s mystery is used to only condemn Nehru in the files. “It has nothing to do with the truth or respect for Bose. BJP and RSS only want political mileage by condemning Nehru.” 

Ashis Roy also shed light on Bose’s remarkable personality and charisma. He observes that Nehru’s “finest hours” were with Congress. Apart from being elected president for two consecutive years at a young age, there was a “certain brilliance in the man.”

All the speculations and allegations regarding Bose and Nehru’s relationship is put to rest with a roar of applause when Vishwas Patil read out an excerpt from his book describing an incident between them. While putting a rose in the pocket of Nehru, a thorn pricked Bose to which he simply said, “Never mind, God made the roses for you and the thorns for me.”

Written by journalism students Ananya Endow & Nitya Narsimhan.

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