Prime Minister Narendra Modi once responded to Lok Sabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge saying that it was wrong to credit only one family for India’s freedom. If a movie were to be made, there would be two protagonists. MK Gandhi and Nehru. Revolutionaries have often played second fiddle to Gandhi. It was not about one person for sure. If there weren’t people like Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh who laid down their lives for the nation, India would have got nowhere on the principles of non-violence.
On the birth anniversary of the chief architect of the Indian constitution, let’s take a look at what the great man said while famously dismissing the Gandhi monopoly. In an interview given to BBC in February 1955, Babasaheb explained the reason for the exit of the British in 1947. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and his INA had caused enough damage to the British. Clement Attlee then Prime Minister of Britain agreed Netaji was the hardest challenge for them. Several intelligence and defence experts reiterated the same.
Indians all over the globe have been very inquisitive to find out the mysterious circumstances under which Netaji left India. The man triggered a revolution by founding the Indian National Army (INA). There were many questions which were left unanswered. How and where did Bose die? Why was he ousted from the Congress? When the Modi government decided to come out and open files on Subhash Chandra Bose, what caused an unrest in the opposition?
Politics is more to do with projection. Netaji was not acknowledged for political reasons. After all the Congress was not banking on his legacy. It was Netaji’s impact that forced the British to quit India in 1947. Bose had already asked the Congress to serve the British a 6 month ultimatum to leave India in 1939, during the second World War. The struggle for freedom had been mellowed down. Bose saw it as an opportunity and asked MK Gandhi and the Congress to put pressure on the British, but all they did was nothing.
Many leaders mocked the INA. But, they never looked into the fact that Bose had organised a force in such a short span of time. Gandhi contributed to the freedom struggle. But to say that his Quit India Movement led to the freedom struggle would be an overstatement. In a candid interview given to BBC in 1955, Babasaheb Ambedkar told Francis Watson what made the British leave India. Babasaheb had said that Clement Attlee suddenly agreed to give India independence and this was something only Attlee could explain.
Bose’s INA was all prepared to take on the British Army. The Quit India Movement was launched by Gandhi in 1942. This was similar to what Bose had proposed earlier in 1939. The movement faded within a few months. In October 1956, 2 months before Ambedkar’s demise, he had a private conversation with Clement Attlee. Attlee had disclosed confidential information that was kept secret for 20 years .
The information had not surprised Ambedkar. He had in the past made it clear that ‘two things’ led the British to free India. Ambedkar further said that the British were ruling with the strong belief that they had total control over the loyalty of soldiers. Whatever happened in the country or whatever politicians did were not areas of concern for them. But when they found out that Indian soldiers had formed a party and were planning to blow them away, the British hopes were squashed.
There was considerable amount of faith in the INA. The British were now scared of a rebellion as the army was now looking up to Bose. Netaji had done enough damage and the British were certain of leaving India. The only question was ‘When?’. The man who had paved the way for a British exit was nowhere to be seen. We owe it to Bose, the man who made a greater impact than Gandhi.