Millennium Post

Full disclosure

Some suspicions refuse to die down. One such is that our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru harboured animosity towards freedom fighter extraordinaire Subhash Chandra Bose.  Recent “revelations” from some declassified files has revealed that the Indian government, under Nehru’s stewardship, kept two members of the Bose family under surveillance through the Intelligence Bureau. This controversy has stoked the dying embers of this long-harboured suspicion.  Reports of snooping by Nehru are surprising, since they were targeted at Bose’s two nephews, who were political lightweights at the time. On the basis of this evidence, many political commentators have jumped the gun and assumed that Nehru had ordered this surveillance because he was apprehensive of Bose’s return. The question that needs to be asked, however, is that did Nehru have reason to worry if Bose were to return? A recent book by an eminent Indian historian called “Nehru & Bose: Parallel Lives” claims that at the time of Bose’s reported death in 1946, the ideological differences between the two had come to an end.  Nehru had earlier chided Bose for joining hands with the Axis forces, which the latter had felt would support India’s cause against the British. In fact, at Bose’s funeral, Nehru presented a moving tribute to the freedom fighter, espousing his secularism, bravery and ability to remain firm in the face strong arm tactics by the Japanese. Back in the early 1930s, in fact, both Nehru and Bose were part of the Congress party’s radical wing and were known to be very close to each other. Given this context and the fact that Nehru and Bose had overcome their ideological differences, it seems rather hard to believe that former feared the latter’s return. These declassified reports, however, are hard to refute. Surveillance of one’s own citizens is a practice common to all modern nation states. Nonetheless, such acts fly in the face of democratic principles, and the current Congress party, who owes its legacy to Nehru, must apologise to Bose’s family. More importantly, however, instead of leaking tit-bits to covertly tarnish Nehru’s legacy, the current dispensation must release all classified files related to Bose.
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