The BJP has used the controversy surrounding the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as a tool to extract political mileage. The government declassified the files in the hope that it would find evidence to denigrate Jawaharlal Nehru, but on the contrary, it was found that the relationship between the two was based upon respect and even some liking.
Journalist, author and Rajya Sabha member of parliament Kumar Ketkar said this during a panel discussion titled “Bigg Bose: Netaji’s complicated legacy” which was part of the on-going Tata Literature Live at Title Waves in Bandra yesterday.
Along with him on the panel were author and senior journalist Ashis Ray, who has himself written a book on Bose titled “Laid to Rest: the Controversy over Subhash Chandra Bose’s Death, and Vishwas Patil, also an award-winning writer in Marathi. The panel was chaired by Siddharth Bhatia, founder editor of The Wire.
So why is Netaji such an issue seven decades after his death? “Because Nehru bashing is the main reason”, said Ketkar. “Netaji’s accident has been used to try and condemn Nehru. People want to gain from this issue, that is why the politics is not ending, though the mystery itself is gone”, he added.
“People have been misled for decades. The truth is something different,” said Ashis Ray. He added that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee would be a real winner if she led a campaign to bring back his ashes which are in the Renko-ji temple in Tokyo. Referring to his book, Ray said most people thought that Bose had gone to Germany to meet Hitler, which was a disaster anyway, but he had a actually gone to meet Emilie Schenkl, whom he later married, and with whom he had a daughter Anita, now Bose-Pfaff.
Fact, the inspiration for writing the book was Ms. Bose-Pfaff wish that her father’s ashes be brought back to India, because it was his ambition to return to a Free India. Also, since he was a Hindu, it is right that his last rites be performed here.
Vishwas Patil, also the author of Mahanayak, another Bose book written in 1998, said he was fascinated by the relationship between not just Bose and Nehru but also Gandhi. He said he had written his book because of the many gaps in the story of Netaji. He professed himself an admirer because of Netaji’s charisma, describing the relationship between him and Nehru as a Shakespearean tragedy, intoning a nara, Azadi ke do lal, Subhash aur Jawaharlal.
Written by journalism students Nitya Narasimhan and Ananya Endow
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