Saturday, May 13, 2017

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Secularism: In spite of being a religious Hindu Netaji never preferred Hindu/Muslim extremists, he was a true Hindu-Secular.

Historical documents establish that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose opposed the Hindu Mahasabha as well as the Muslim League as communal and acted to prevent their growth and membership in the Congress. This is contradictory to the attempts of contemporary right wingers to appropriate his legacy.

Netaji was the champion of secularism without promoting the word secular.

Netaji's army comprised of people from all communities. He put all the minority communities at ease by allowing them larger autonomy.

For quite some time now, there have been attempts by Right Wing Hindu Organizations to portray people like Subhash Chandra Bose and Sardar Patel in different lights to destroy the image of Jawaharlal Nehru and the legacy of Indian Secularism.

The BJP-minded ones go so far as to even claim Bose as an icon of Hindutva, placing him alongside Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Savarkar.  Although they have mastered the art of rewriting false history, there are some things that cannot be changed. One of them is the relationship Subhash Chandra Bose had with Hindu Mahasabha.

Subhash Bose, no doubt, had a thorough Hindu outlook in life and was a religious Hindu, as is evident in his unfinished autobiography. To the impact of Aurobindo on his early life also he openly admits. Towards his last days in Singapore and Burma it is said that he would often go to the temples wearing traditional Hindu attire and spend hours in meditation at night. It is also said that he used to carry a pocketbook edition of Bhagavad-Gita in the chest of his uniform during the day and while sleeping keep it under his pillow.

All of this seems true enough, and would widely separate Bose from the garden variety of Nehruvian Secularists and Marxists who are, by design, hostile to the Hindu dharma without many exceptions.

And still, when it came to understanding Islam and its objectives, as a thinker and as a leader, it must be said that Bose was not very different from the other Hindu-Secularists.

Means Netaji believes in Hindu Dharma but fully secular like Swami Vivekananda & his Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansha Dev.

Irony is nowadays when Mamata Banerjee follows the same BJP & Sanghi people call her as Jihadi Begum.

Netaji’s beliefs in secularism were can be summed up as follows:

a) Without Muslim approval neither can Swaraj be won, and what more is, nor was it worth winning without their support;

b) The onus of Hindu-Muslim unity lied mostly on the shoulders of the Hindus,

c) Only by adjusting to the Muslim sensibilities and removing their ‘misgivings’ was it possible to achieve that unity; and therefore

d) Appeasing Muslims should be made a core and visible part of any program, which is what he conscientiously belabored to do throughout his political career. In his hostility to Hindutva also he was quite virulent just like the other Hindu-secularists.

In justification of the rationale of generally aligning with the pan-Islamists, and using Islamic sentiments in Congress policy, Subhash Bose later wrote, “…Moplah Rebellion in Malabar in South India intensified the crisis… Afghanistan had entered into a treaty with Mustafa Kamal Pasha and this was followed by a treaty between Persia and Soviet Russia. In Egypt the nationalist Wafd Party of Syed Zaghlul Pasha was strong and active. Thus it was apparent that the entire Moslem world was combining against Great Britain and this had an inevitable reaction on Muslims of India…Government would be eager to compromise with Congress.”

Netaji was not against the principle of taking up Khilafat agitation, even in hindsight he only went so far as to regret its operating format. He wrote, “The real mistake in my opinion did not lie in connecting the Khilafat issue with the other national issues, but in allowing the Khilafat Committee to be set up as an independent organization throughout the country, quite apart from the Indian National Congress…. If no separate Khilafat Committees had been organized and all Khilafatist Muslims had been persuaded to join the ranks of the Indian National Congress, they would probably have been absorbed by the latter when the Khilafat issue became a dead one.” And again at another place, “…the introduction of the Khilafat question into Indian politics was unfortunate. As has already been pointed out, if the Khilafatist Muslims had not started a separate organization but had joined the Indian National Congress, the consequences would not have been so undesirable.”

Deshbandhu Das around this time made with the moderate Muslim leaders like Hakim Ajmal Khan what is known as the Bengal Hindu-Muslim Pact of 1923, which besides other things, for the first time anywhere in India, committed to providing reservations in the government jobs on a communal basis. In Bengal as many as 55% to 60% public jobs were agreed to be reserved for the Moslem candidates alone. This Bengal Pact although rejected by the national body of Congress in Kakinada that year from being adopted as an India-wide program, still established a policy direction in Congress for the time to come. Subhas Bose, a part of this program as a lieutenant of Chittaranjan Das, records, “Deshabandhu had drawn up an agreement between Hindus and Moslems, covering religious as well as political questions, but it had been rejected by the Coconada Congress in December 1923, on the ground that it conceded too much to the Moslems… There was a stormy debate and the political opponents of the Deshabandhu, joined by some reactionary Hindus, put up a formidable opposition.”

Like Subhas Bose, Deshbandhu Das was a very religious Hindu in his personal life; his mansion in Calcutta always resounding with Kirtans of vaishnava mandali in which he used to actively participate. As a spiritual retreat, in the June of 1923, C R Das travelled to Pondicherry to briefly stay with Shri Aurobindo whom as his attorney he had eloquently and successfully defended in the Alipore Bombing case about fifteen years back. Aurobindo also tried to enlighten Deshbandhu Das about futility of his policy of making the so called Hindu Muslim unity as a prerequisite for the national movement. Das held on to his opinion and went on to say so much that unless the so called communal questions were settled, in his view he would not even like the British to leave! (So records a letter of Shri Aurobindo to Mother that month.)

But such ideology within Bengal Congress only got amplified with Subhas Bose and his elder brother Sarat Bose after the death of C R Das in 1925.
As the CEO of Calcutta Corporation, Subhas Bose outdid C R Das, who had only proposed 55% communal reservation that too in Moslem-majority districts which Calcutta was not. Subhas Bose appointed in Calcutta Corporation, 25 Mohammedans out of 33 vacant posts, not on the grounds of any merit, but for their creed. He said, “In (the) past Hindus have enjoyed what maybe regarded monopoly in matters of appointments. The claims of Mohammedans, Christians and Depressed Classes have to be favorably considered, though it is sure to give rise to a certain amount of heart-burning among the Hindu candidates.” So he left 8 seats for these Hindus of both “depressed class” and otherwise, and the Anglo-Indians.

·      Subhash Bose during imprisoned in Burma wrote, “…the distinction between Hindu and Muslim of which we hear so much nowadays is largely an artificial creation, a kind of Catholic-Protestant controversy in Ireland, in which our present-day rulers have had a hand. History will bear me out when I say that it is a misnomer to talk of Muslim rule when describing the political order in India prior to the advent of the British. Whether we talk of the Moghul Emperors at Delhi, or of the Muslim Kings of Bengal, we shall find that in either case the administration was run by Hindus and Muslims together, many of the prominent Cabinet Ministers and Generals being Hindus. Further, the consolidation of the Moghul Empire in India was effected with the help of Hindu commanders-in-chief.”

Throughout Bose’s writings and speeches, he referred to congress Hindus as the nationalist Hindus and the likes of Hindu Mahasabha as communal, and every time equated them with the Muslim league. In fact, it was during the presidency of Subhash Chandra Bose that the congress banned the dual membership of Congress and Mahasabha.

Bose wrote an editorial in his forward bloc weekly on May 4, 1940 under the title of ‘Congress and Communal Organizations’.

‘That was a long time ago’, he wrote, ‘when prominent leaders of the congress could be members of the communal organizations like Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League. But in recent times, the circumstances have changed. These communal organizations have become more communal than before. As a reaction to this, the Indian National Congress has put into its constitution a clause to the effect that no member of a communal organization like Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League can be a member of an elective committee of Congress.’

Thus, in Bose’s estimation, Hindu Mahasabha was ‘Communal’ and to be placed in same brackets as Muslim League. Indeed, he mentioned Hindu Mahasabha before Muslim League every time he referred to Communal Organizations.

When Syama Prasad Mookerjee joined Hindu Mahasabha, Dr Mookerjee wrote in his diary that Bose met him and told him if he went about building Hindu Mahasabha as a political body in Bengal, “He ( Subhash Chandra Bose) would see to it, BY FORCE IF NEED BE, THAT IT WAS BROKEN BEFORE IT WAS REALLY BORN.”

Later, Bose came true on his words that he was not adverse to using force and intimidation to put Mahasabha down. In the words of Balraj Madhok, a leader of Mahasabha at that time, ‘Subhash Chandra Bose with help of his supporters, decided to intimidate the Mahasabha by use of force. His men would break-up all Mahasabha meetings and beat up the candidates. Dr Mookerjee would not tolerate it. He got a meeting announced, to be addressed by him. As soon as he rose to speak, a stone hit him in his head, and he began to bleed profusely.’

When Subhash Chandra Bose was forming INA. ‘Hindu nationalists’, instead of helping him were hand in gloves with British. Hindu Mahasabha, under Savarkar’s leadership organized recruitment camps for British armed forces. As Savarkar said, ‘Whether we like it or not, we shall have to defend our own hearth and home against the ravages of war and this can only be done by intensifying the government’s war efforts to defend India. Hindu Mahasabhaites must, therefore, rouses Hindus ESPECIALLY IN THE PROVINCES OF BENGAL AND ASSAM as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute.

The above material suggests that Netaji Bose considered these so called Hindu Extremist Organizations as Communal, and this was only till 1945. If Bose was alive to see the later activities of these organizations, I wonder what Netaji would have said or done.

But Netaji would have certainly not associated with BJP if he was alive today.
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Thanks & Vande Mataram!! Saroop Chattopadhyay.

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