While Prime Minister Narendra Modi never misses an opportunity to display his devotion to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, on a parallel track, his government has been increasingly acknowledging the contribution of the armed struggle against British rule, the epitome of which was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s military approach through the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army). In yet another development in the series, the Modi government has decided to begin the Republic Day celebrations every year not on 24 January, as has been the convention so far, but on 23 January, the birth anniversary of Bose.
“This is in line with Modi government’s focus on celebrating/commemorating important aspects of our history and culture,” sources in the government said.
The union government had earlier started the celebration of Netaji’s birth anniversary as Parakram Diwas while a competing Trinamool Congress government of West Bengal named the day Deshnayak Diwas.
Researcher and author Chandrachur Ghose, who assisted journalist-activist Anuj Dhar in the making of the book India’s Biggest Cover-Up on Netaji’s disappearance after 1945, and later co-authored Conundrum with him to claim an ascetic called Gumnami Baba or Bhagawanji was Netaji in disguise, tweeted:
This is indeed a very big and heartening step. We have to give the credit where it is due. Thank you @PMOIndia @narendramodi ji. You have been taking small but important steps on #Netaji. I hope we will see the final act before 2024.
Ghose’s biography of Netaji covering nuggets from the freedom fighter’s life will hit the stands soon.
Chandra Kumar Bose, the grand nephew of Netaji who now believes in the 18 August 1945 aircrash theory, said, “The people of India appreciate the efforts made by the NDA got under the leadership of Narendra Modi ji. But what is more important in today’s India, and I have written in this regard to PM Modi, is that we must implement Netaji’s inclusive ideology. He was the only leader who could unite the people irrespective of their religion as ‘Bharatiyas’.”
Chandra Bose said that unless Netaji’s inclusive ideology is implemented, India would break up again.
“We have already seen the partition of India and Bengal. If Netaji had returned to India, there would have been no partition. But India is breaking up again. Divise politics must stop. We must have communal harmony,” Chandra Bose, who stands marginalised in Bengal BJP, said.
“The real tribute to Netaji would be to imbibe his ideology, fight against divisive politics, ensure communal harmony. Netaji envisioned a nation united. He never wanted any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion,” he added.
Chandra Bose also said that in his letter to PM Modi, he demanded Netaji’s statue to be built in front of India Gate, construct INA memorial at the Red Fort, among other demands.
In recent years, the Modi government has marked several dates to commemorate their historical and cultural importance. Some of these dates are
14 August: Partition Horrors Remembrance Day
31 October: Ekta Divas National Unity Day (Birth Anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel)
15 November: Janjatiya Gaurav Divas (Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s Birthday)
26 November: Constitution Day
26 December: Veer Baal Divas (tribute to 4 Sahibzadas)
Interestingly, Sardar Patel and Netaji Bose were at loggerheads in the Congress. Their mutual rivalry peaked when Netaji defeated Gandhi’s candidate Pattabhi Sitaramaiah for presidency of the party and Sardar, Rajendra Prasad and other moderates of the era ganged up to corner Netaji. Sardar had (in)famously asked All India Radio not to broadcast Netaji’s speech. He had also got into a bitter fight with Netaji over a donation the former’s elder brother Vitthalbhai Patel had given to the latter for the patriotic cause.
It is believed that the Modi government is wary of revealing the entire truth about Netaji by pursuing Russian, Japanese and British governments to declassify other documents pertaining to the freedom fighter who collaborated with Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo in their possession, as the revelation may lead to the fall of some other icons that the government celebrates.