Emotional gambit of a titan : Political mistakes of Netaji Bose could not overshadow his gargantuan image.

Bose in Europe during mid 1930s- In our country an icon can not do a wrong - So is Bose.

Bose in Europe during mid 1930s- In our country an icon can not do a wrong – So is Bose – photo from internet.

My good friend for many years Amitabha Gupta recently “crowned” me with a pestilential adjective.He called me a ” Bose basher “.He feels my political perspective is so blind that I badly differ from many of the Indian (& most of the Bengali) that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is the ultimate icon of Indian freedom struggle & his failure to enter India with the help of Axis force during 2nd world war is the biggest opportunity that India lost.My friend for 23 years Subhasish Das who once played a role almost similar of a  light house of wisdom in many fields of my life often goes ruthless in castigating me the moment I try to explain history with logic. It clearly & very sadly shows that history  in this country is not read with brain but by heart & when history is read by heart it is bound to take a wrong destiny. A poor me always cornered in such a discussion ( not by logic but by emotional tumult & sentimental appeal ) finally had decided to give up but in last few weeks when again name of  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is rocking in media I have once agian gathered courage in me to explain my point & this time in writing.

I have no wish of showing the audacity to belittle the gargantuan contribution that Netaji Bose did in India’s freedom struggle.I am not an Indian communist of 1940s who loves to enjoy his morning cup of tea with obnoxious cartoons published on Bose in People’s War the mouthpiece of Communist Party of India in those days.I am also not a backbone-less Congress joker who for the sake of collecting blessing of a family will try to suppress Netaji’s contribution in India’s freedom struggle. Myself a mid aged man with some average amount of knowledge has collected information from various sources &  that powered me to evaluate history with an opinion as rational as possible.This power somehow backed me to recheck Netaji Bose,his political thinking,his assessment of world power all in the time in which he lived & died.

Subhash babu –  The leader India awaited ”   

A man who can ignore a  glorious career of ICS in 1920 only to work for his country needs no word to prove his intention. No national leader in India of his time was so candid & honest in gesture to start his political career . Gandhi & Neheru first tried to make a career in law & both failed miserably.Then one fine morning Gandhi vanished to South Africa a country where no top class professional of that era used to go & Neheru son of a super rich became an activist of Home Rule League.A generation before Md Ali Jinha, Chittaranjan Das & Motilal Neheru were the rare examples who left a booming law practice in Bombay,Calcutta & Allahabad High court

Subhash Chandra  Bose on the cover of American Times magazine  after electing President of Indian National Congress in 1938 - Photo from internet.

Subhash Chandra Bose on the cover of American Times magazine after electing President of Indian National Congress in 1938 – Photo from internet.

respectively to become a part of freedom movement. Subhash Chandra Bose was in that class. He soon became all India president of youth Congress. Then mayor of Calcutta & finally president of Indian National Congress at the age of 42 the youngest at that time.Within a year Bose emerged as the main leader clearly distinctive from Gandhi school of politics & rocked the boat of Congress by winning a presidential election against the wish of a dictator named M K Gandhi in 1939. It was just unimaginable in India of that era & Bose made it happen.Then his luck left him & he  regained it  soon with sheer determination & passion. A man caged in his own house by Calcutta police fled one night in incognito to reach Kabul in Afganisthan. From there he went to Moscow & from there to Berlin.From Berlin to an Indonesian island via Africa under the sea in a submarine.From there to Tokyo by air & from Tokyo to Singapore.From Singapore to Bangkok & many places of Burma.In between life gave him the last chance to set his foot on India in Port Blair of Andaman island for a brief period. Finally perhaps his journey ended either in a small island of Taiwan or in a dark prison cell of Russia.In this journey Bose faced death in every step.If not death it was apprehension,neglect & doubt that were impounded on him by every country he visited.In every place he was a man under vivid watch.In every move he was followed by spies & informers. Life was never easy for a man who could have enjoy a near luxury life of writing ” Discovery of India ” or long letters to his daughter from prison cell.Neither he had the chance to sing  raghupati raghava raja ram in evening under to great comfort of G D Birla in his palatial houses of Calcutta & Delhi.Bose choose a life that a only real patriot must take & he paid the biggest price for that.He left his wife & 3 months old daughter behind & could never meet them again.He tasted the most painful death in a land where no relative was there to comfort him.He remained the biggest cause of concern for Allied force then fighting it’s toughest battle in oriental theatre  of 2nd world war.

A prince among patriots - that is how Gandhi paid homage to Bose.Photo from internet.

A prince among patriots – that is how Gandhi paid homage to Bose.Photo from internet.

So where Bose was wrong ? As a patriot he was wrong no where.Rather he was a prince among all as described by none other than Gandhi in 1945 when Gandhi himself was a rejected furniture in his own house named Congress Party. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose does not fall short there.He falls short in his choice of action & in almost every stage of his political life Bose committed the same old mistake.

A warrior by nature – a leaning towards army cult  

As I walk deep into Bose’s life not through the biography written by sycophants but by serious scholar of history I cultivate more and more signals proving that inside of his high educated sophisticated Bengali entity Subhash Chandra Bose always had a sharp leaning towards war fare & army cult.It first came in sight in 1928 Calcutta Congress when Subhash as a chief of reception committee organised a huge parade in military uniform at Park Circus maidan the venue of the meeting.President elected Motilal Neheru was given a guard of honor by Subhash & his young followers something unimaginable in a Congress culture.Though it made him a hero among young & restless he was by large ridiculed by Bengali press of Calcutta & by Mahatma Gandhi himself who was unkind enough to say  this initiative as ” circus of Park Circus”.In mid of 1930 when Subhash was in Europe for many years he was almost captivated by seeing strong military control of Nazi Germany & fascist Italy.His auto biography which he wrote & published in Europe clearly stated that of his desire to equip with an Indian army which will take on Britain in

Netaji Bose having a meal  in his Europe days - photo from internet.

Netaji Bose having a meal in his Europe days – photo from internet.

war.Even when he himself became president of Haripura Congress in 1938 he was received from station to Congress camp in a huge military typed procession & needless to say Bose enjoyed every moment of this.The moment 2nd world war started in Europe Bose concluded very innocently that this is the time when India can achieve it’s freedom through a military power backed by any country that is fighting against Britain.This very simple equation made him almost aimless & he took it granted that USSR will help an Indian force to enter India to topple British rule during this war.He fled the country  & tried his best to contact USSR from Kabul & the result was just fruitless. Bose not only wasted time there but also exposed his weak power of calculation about a nation like USSR.A dejected & confused Bose opted for Italy & Germany knowing almost nothing about their plan for India.This was the just a beginning of his political wrong moves.

In Germany – The fatal miscalculation of a tall leader : 

Netaji taking guard of honor of Indian Legion in Germany - photo from internet.

Netaji taking guard of honor of Indian Legion in Germany – photo from internet.

Failed to make any inroads into the heart of USSR Bose took a path that he himself was not sure where it would take him at the end. He arrived Berlin from Moscow & was well received by Germany.The entire arrangement was done through Italian Consulate of Moscow.Recent research has revealed that at this part Bose was under the observation of British spy & they willingly allowed Bose to move Nazi Germany as they wanted to expose a negative image of Bose in the eye of common people. It was time when Germany & USSR were not in war by an inked agreement but in secret chamber of Berlin Hitlar was planning to attack USSR. Bose after reaching Berlin as usual remained super optimistic that USSR,Germany,Italy & Japan will form a new collaborated power as all hate Great Britain.It is surprising that with his vast experience of world politics of that era he was not able to access that Japan’s interest & Germany’s interest in this war has no common point at all.

Bose with German officers in Indian Legion - photo from internet.

Bose with German officers in Indian Legion – photo from internet.

Bose found the time  as a scope to gain the advantage of pushing his agenda of India’s freedom.The fall of Paris in the hand of Germany & the fall of Singapore in the hand of Japan gave him an unlimited amount of  optimism that this war is destined to go for Axis power. The reality indeed was Germany was more keen of attacking USSR than attacking Britain.In 1939 Hitlar attacked Poland only because it has a land connectivity to Soviet Union. Hitlar’s original aim was to capture Ukrain from Soviet Union &  as a person Hitlar had no time to think for a country like India.India’s independence was just a poor joke in his imagination. Hitlar used to carry  a very low respect for India & Gandhi.He was once suggested Churchill to solve India problem in one second – just shoot Gandhi.

Netaji in full military uniform - his passion for military war fare is visible in his entire life - photo from internet.

Netaji in full military uniform – his passion for military war fare is visible in his entire life – photo from internet.

In Hitlar’s Germany Bose was given a warm hospitality but with very little importance. Rather he was under watch for 24 hours. German official received him as a tool of anti Britain propaganda.  After spending few days in Esplanade Hotel he was given a palace like house to stay in the Charlottenburg in Berlin, a luxury car with driver, a cook, several servent with best food & drinks.His Austrian wife Emilie Schenkl whom he secretly married in 1937 in Europe ( but never ever broke the news to his relative ) soon joined him there.It was the time when  for a very brief period he had a normal family life & soon a daughter was born at then end of 1942. In between Bose traveled to Italy & met Mussolini with a wish to derive his military support but got a cold shoulder. Soon he reaslied that depending on Italy will be a gross mistake & started negotiating with German military officers.He was first allowed to open an Indian Legion which was nothing but a group of Indian POW taken from Africa & Asia.Out of 17000 such soldiers only 14 people first came forward & then nearly 3500 people responded to Bose’s call to join his Indian Legion with uniform,very little arms but with no clear objective.They were taken to camp where under German military officers they used to do march past . Here the word ” Azad Hind ” was coined & the slogan ” Jai Hind” was born on 2nd November 1941. Bose also got his immortal title ” Netaji” meaning the leader. A flag of Azad Hind with a “springing tiger” in it’s centre was also designed. A factory in Viena named Rudolf Souval  started producing stars,metal tiger head,sword,badge,medal,trophy and many more attractive stationary.Bose & his soldiers decorated them selves with all those but not much of military skill needed to wage a war against Britain.

A German military officer with Netaji Bose in his Germany days ( 1941-1943) - photo from internet.

A German military officer with Netaji Bose in his Germany days ( 1941-1943) – photo from internet.

The actual “support”  that is the military   training from German Army was very insignificant. Hitlar & his senior officers were almost sure that an Indian can do anything but not war.With very slow & insipid progress of this Indian Legion Bose wanted to engage his army in front & expressed his view to German Govt but they found it just an impractical one.Bose offered his force to march to India with German force & to invade from western front .The expense of the war assumed to be taken from Germany in form of loan which an Independent India will repay after attaining freedom ! With that Bose tried to sale his theory of German-Japan-USSR-Italy collaboration to crush British imperialism.This is just astonishing that a leader of Bose level could not realise the imperialistic attitude of each of these countries ? He took them so innocent that they will share their lives & money for the sake of India ? German official threw the Bose’s idea into the nearest dustbin & still he was allowed to open “Free India centre” with some local Indians.It’s activities remained limited in printing anti Britain write ups & radio broadcasting by Bose himself. Known as Azad Hind Radio it started broadcasting Bose’s speech & non stop anti British propaganda in various Indian languages. It is from here Bose announced the world & specially to Indian that he is alive & kicking in Germany. Knowing uopn Subhash Bose’s presence in Germany under the shadow of Nazi’z Romain Rolland wrote ” Chandra Bose to Berlin…received by Hitlar.Once more he has made the plunge. At one time to the right,at another to the left.Moscow,Berlin,Tokyo….these Bengalis violent, impulsive,never a politics of reasons,they obey the somersaults of their passion,victim of their own vulnerability to jealousy,vanity stung to the quick by fleshwounds”.Immodest it may sound but fact remains a rosy picture was sold from these broadcasting to Indian subcontinent by Bose himself. In 1942 Bose in his one of the radio speech informed all fellow Indians that “ I can tell you with all seriousness that the three powers ( Japan,Germany & Italy) want to set India free and independent”.When the war was no more going on right direction for Germany this kind of ” glorifying myth” ( that is the word Nirad C Chowdhury described Bose’s activity in Germany) was making no sense. Apart from all these Indian Independence day on 26th January was also celebrated with local Indian & German military person.It seems lot of cosmetic activities were there in Germany but there was hardly any solid initiative taken which could have shake Britain’s rule in India.

With his perplexing association with Nazi Germany Bose became a target of the press both in India & England.While in England he was given the adjective of “jackbooted fascist puppet” in India members of Communist Party of India started calling him the “running dog of imperialism”.Communist Party of India ( CPI) in those days was supported by Communist Party of Great Britain in the project of insulting Subhash Bose in their political organ.

Netaji Bose meeting Adolf Hitlar in May 1942 - Hitlar made is very clear that India's independence is not in his agenda.Photo from internet.

Netaji Bose meeting Adolf Hitlar in May 1942 – Hitlar made is very clear that India’s independence is not in his agenda.Photo from internet.

The reality says at that point of time apathy of Germany & Italy towards India was clear to Bose while Japan was not much in touch with him.Soon Hitlar’s attack to USSR left Bose devastated. He realized that he is spending time in a wrong place for too long. Gradually his Indian Legion became irregular.They started suffering very bad treatment in the hands of German officers & finally sent to  Italian front to fight where they found an inferior lot as far as military merits are concerned.

Bose gradually became too restless & annoyed .He started giving statement against Hitlar & Nazi. Finally after many effort he managed to get an appointment with Hitlar on 30th May 1942 & it turned out to be a fruitless show for him. In that meeting Hitlar clearly said to Bose on his face that he does not think India is capable of handling independence. Hitlar told this to Bose that he can not see the possibility of India’s freedom in next 150 years. He even explained how difficult it is to render logistics support  to an Indian force from Germany.Bose understood in short time that Germany now wants to part with him & Hitlar already has a plan to shift him to Asia by a submarine.

What he actually achieved in Germany from 1941 to 1943 ?

In nutshell not much – rather he wasted a golden chance. From a long distance he misread Germany.He was aware of it’s Nazi pitfalls but his blind hate towards British pushed him to a wrong corner.He had no idea while in India that Germany has a plan to attack Soviet Union & his dream of combining 4  abnormal Allied partner was just a baseless surmise. Logistically a support of German military to an Indian army from Germany was just impossible.

Bose at a reception of Indian  POW in Germany - photo from internet

Bose at a reception of Indian POW in Germany – photo from internet

Plus it is to be considered that in entire war German had no direct interest on India except considering it is a British colony.Hitlar was more keen of invading Russia rather than hitting a British colony in Asia.More to that the motivation of POW that Bose got in Germany was already very low.They were less of a patriot than a clever soldiers who knew pain mingled in life of POW.So joining an army in the name of soldiers  without any plan of war was an easy option for many of them to avoid  life of a prisoner.

Bose leading Indian National Army  – was Japan really serious about it ?

 As soon as the German romance was over for Bose to achieve freedom with their direct help he planned to shift his base to Asia from where India is logistically an easy destination. His request to transfer him to East Asia was finally granted. After few false commitment from Italy to transfer him by air to Japan finally Bose took the most dangerous risk of his life.He left his wife & 2 months old daughter in Austria & boarded a submarine that took him to Africa & from there he boarded another Japanese submarine which finally landed him at Indonesia.It was a voyage of three months.It will be better to note here that the secret communicated exchanged between German & Japanese army to transfer Bose from one submarine to another was decoded by Americans & Britain was informed about this. Still Bose was allowed to go Japan only to get expose his profound leaning on Japan another abominable imperil country.From there Bose was transported to Tokyo in Japan. In mid of 1943 2nd world war was close to it’s conclusion & there was no chance of Axis power to gain victory. It was best known to Germany,Japan & Italy. This is surprising  that Bose was still believing that he can gain freedom of India with Axis force.

Netaji Bose with his top INA soldiers - photo from internet.

Netaji Bose with his top INA soldiers – photo from internet.

It is already mentioned  earlier that Japan’s unimaginable success in Pearl Harbor in December 1941 & it’s surprising victory in capturing Singapore in February 1942 took the world by it’s biggest shock. The fall of Singapore was so devastating that Britain described it one of the biggest military failure in it’s war history.Getting upon the news of Singapore Winston Churchill later wrote ” I put the telephone down.I was thankful to be alone.In all the war I never received more direct shock.”   More than 100000 soldiers were captured in the hand of Japanese & many of them were destined to suffer the worst brutality of the war.

Bose had a confidence of Japan’s military supremacy & at that point of time Japan had also started air raid in Calcutta. Infact little bit of destruction that it done to Calcutta gave this confidence to Bose that now reaching India is  possible for him. Bose innocently thought Japan as it’s natural friend. Japan’s call of ‘Asia for Asians’ was still in air . Before coming to Japan Bose contacted Rashibehari Bose an Indian freedom fighter in exile who assured his help to co-ordinate things & to reorganise once almost disbanded Indian National Army.(INA)

From Tokyo to Singapore to Rangoon to Bangkok : a patriot trusting all who are not natural friend of India.

From Tokyo he arrived Singapore which was then conquered by Japan.

Indian National Army was already formed but active only on paper.It was Captain Mohan Singh an Indian army officer of British force who after becoming POW in the hand of Japan formed an armed force of 25000 POW. More than 35000 Indian POW refused to join this INA & soon it was almost disbanded because Mohan Singh returned to prison camp with 4000 such soldiers. Mohan Singh was so badly treated by Japanese that he gave up  his initiatives & preferred a life of POW rather than a head of a puppet army.

So when Bose landed at Singapore to take over the responsibility of INA it was a group of 21000 unorganised & aimless people.It was his sheer leadership & oratory power that Bose regrouped them into an army .He created a mayhem of patriotism among all Indian of that region & for the first time many of them saw such a tall leader of India from a close shot.His voice & personality with passion created such zingoism that many people joined INA only for Bose & it became popular among Indian community as the word “Netaji”. INA became a team of 60000 but out of that only 25000 had the proper training of warfare & rest were just emotional NRI youths. Netaji Bose could not gather courage to accept this fact that an emotional group of people is good for hysteria but not that good to perform in the battle field with support of a reluctant friend like Japan. Such an army was formed to take over none other than Allied force.From October 1943 to June 1944 INA was just an army doing several march past & singing good number of  patriotic songs at various function of Singapore & Rangoon.It was not sent to front to bite a single bullet till then.

Netaji taking guard of honor of INA in front of old Supreme court building at Singapore in 1943 - photo from internet.

Netaji taking guard of honor of INA in front of old Supreme court building at Singapore in 1943 – photo from internet.


As year 1944 came to an end Japan was slowly getting  exhausted & had no plan to invade India with INA. Although Japanese air-bombers bombed Calcutta on 5th December 1943 & caused considerable damage  at dock area it has no  serious plan to conquer Calcutta.Protecting Singapore or Rangoon was much more in priority for Tokyo than taking Netaji Bose to fort William of Calcutta or red fort of Delhi.

Old Supreme court building of Singapore - in front of this historical building Netaji accepted INA's command & a new saga of Indian struggle for independence started - photo by author.

Old Supreme court building of Singapore – in front of this historical building Netaji accepted INA’s command & a new saga of Indian struggle for independence started – photo by author.

  Early 1944 situation changed.To regain it’s lost glory of Singapore & Rangoon Allied gathered a huge force in Assam & Bengal to invade Burma .To retaliate 14th Army of common wealth Japan suddenly entered India in 1944 with a plan to capture Imphal & Kohima. Japanese army captured a place named Moirang on 14th April 1944 & before that on 8th April a part of Kohima was also taken under control. At Moirang INA was allowed to hoist India’s national flag.The exact role of INA in the battle of Moirang is not clear even today. Many historians are of the opinion that INA shared the battle field in equal number & it was the bravery of them that Allied army pushed back from Moirang. After independence Government of India has erected a monument there & also opened a war museum to remember the glorious battle of Manipur. We all often take huge pride of that thinking INA really fought side by side with Japanese army in that war & they indeed made Allied force flee from Moirang. Many historical accounts give an opposite version saying that in reality INA was not called in that battle in it’s peak time. Although Bose wanted INA to enter India first & Japan to follow but it was not entertained. Bose clearly wrote to the top Japanese military officials that “ the first drop of blood shed on Indian soil must be that of a soldier of the INA.Sadly it was not done.7000 INA soldiers were entered in Manipur after Japanese 15th Army & 28th Army but by that time war was almost over.The exact role of INA in the battle of Moirang is not clear even today.Bose himself was in Rangoon & he did not rush to war front even knowing the victory of Axis. The national flag of India ( as designed by INA ) was hoisted by  Colonel S A Malik of INA.This makes me stunt. Netaji who always talked about his arrival on the mainland India with a hope of creating an emotional mayhem among common people & expected to convert that tumult into the final strike on British India let this chance go so lightly ? The same Netaji made himself available at Port Blair in Andaman &  Nicobar island when that islands were captured & gifted to him by Japanese. A man of ultimate non-compromising attitude did not mind to receive a piece of his own motherland captured by Japanese.Was that event more glorious than this battle of Manipur which many think was a victory of Indians ? What made Bose away from Manipur after such a victory ? Was Bose realized by that time that he is just a namesake commander in chief of INA whose actual control is in Tokyo ? Was it clear that attack in Indian mainland it only a subject of Japan’s wish & not his plan ?  Was this realization meant that even he wants he can not mobilize his force by his own war plan ?

War memorial in Imphal war cemetery dedicated to Indian Hindu & Sikh soldiers who dies to prevent INA - photo by author.

War memorial in Imphal war cemetery dedicated to Indian Hindu & Sikh soldiers who dies to prevent INA – photo by author.

The little success tasted by Japanese ( & INA ) was very short lived. Soon Allied force became extremely offensive.The dream of Japanese to capture Imphal was soon reduced to dust as General Slim of Allied force arrived there with 60000 soldiers of 14th Army & air support. Imphal town was blocked for more than three months & finally INA suffered a massive defeat.It was verry clear from the battle of Manipur that Japan’s backing to INA was just a namesake.There was no air support from Mandalaya & there was no tank & advance weapon supplied to INA. The Japanese company named Hikarikikan responsible for supply chain proved to be a big flop.INA soldiers perished in great number. They were subject to endless suffering & discriminatory treatment by Japanese. Many of them surrendered to Allied force & most of them died of hunger,wounds & diseases. The loss of INA someone puts  7000 while someone puts it less than 500. An account given in the book ” The Last Days of the Raj” the statistics shows 700 deserted, 800 surrendered,400 killed & 1500 died in hospital. On the other hand Allied also lost more than 3000 soldiers giving evidence that it was indeed a gory battle & one of the toughest in that world war .Today in Imphal at 2nd world war cemetery there are 1603 grave of Euro-American soldiers while there are more than 1600 names found in the memorial of Indian soldiers who died in this battle .With no supply of food,medicine & other war commodities to INA on time Japan very clearly executed this message to Bose that their interest on him & Indian independence is over.They are now only interested to protect Singapore & Rangoon.From mid of June 1944 INA started pushing back to Burma where they were used by Japanese to guard Mandalaya. When Allied army was at the doorstep of Burma INA was used as a wall to protect Mandalaya. They were based at a place named Pagan & almost silently surrendered to Maratha Battillion.The war was so easy for Colonel Slim that he wrote in his diary ” This incident was I think the chief contribution of Indian Army made to either side in the Burma war”. Infact when Imphal war took place 2nd world war was almost won by Allied.Germany had a horrific defeat in Russia while in Pacific Japan was poorly collapsing everyday.In such an atmosphere Bose & his INA was more of a burden on Japan than an army of a friendly country.

As soon as Attom bomb was dropped on Japan on 6th & 9th August Japan’s great dream of united Asia ( !!!! ) was reduced to rubble.Prime minister Tojo committed suicide & most of the Japan was in debris. Naturally Japan was looking an excuse to off load Netaji & he himself gave him the chance.

Greater East Asia Conference 1943  : Whom did he represent there ?

Subhash Chandra Bose representing India in the conference of Tokyo - Photo from internet.

Subhash Chandra Bose representing India in the conference of Tokyo – Photo from internet.

It makes me surprised that how Netaji agreed to participate Great East Asia Conference held in Tokyo on 5th-6th November 1943. It was a summit organised by Japan to glorify it’s stand on 2nd world war & to establish it’s pro-independence support to various Asian countries under European colonization. It was called the moment Japan realised it’s loosing position in the war & the conference practically became a platform to promote Japanese imperialism.

Although Bose was invited there as an observer but he was given a full honor of a state head  by Japanese Government.The conference attended by few chosen south Asian countries to hail Japan’s imperialistic game & Bose gladly became a part of it ! Even Thailand did not send the state head to cement  it’s strong message that it is not a part of Japan’s imperial plan & sent junior official not much of diplomatic weight.There was no one from Korea ( no need was there as it was then ruled by Japan ) but few intellectual came to praise of Japan’s rule in Korea.Rest all were small puppets from China,Burma &  Philippine.Bose delivered a speech on India’s plan for independence ( jana gana mana was played in the conference hall as India’s national anthem & it was given a full honor like any independent country’s national anthem ) but he was marked as supporter of Japan’s evil game across the world. Back in home Indian communists & people like Neheru got a golden chance to run for the blood of Bose.While Neheru made himself restricted only by giving a statement to prevent Bose with naked sword if he comes to India CPI leaders like P C Joshi, B T Randive & others took Bose to the lowest ebb.CPI political mouthpiece was filled up with anti Bose cartoons & articles.The Statesman of Calcutta an old enemy  which once described Bose’s friendship with Nazi  as ” he is  where he belongs”  & went on writing in it’s editorial that ” Mr Bose’s views are those of Nazi’s & he makes no secret of it…..take the trouble of reading his books….if therefore Mr Subhash Bose is with the Nazis & the German Radio claimed to  know about his whereabouts  as early as last January  – he is where he belongs. He is honester than those who now put up a smoke screen of disbelief.” just got this opportunity to reestablish it’s claim.

Netaji Bose with INA members - photo from internet.

Netaji Bose with INA members – photo from internet.

Bose after Novemenr 1943 was just a running dog of imperialism in many eyes.Bose could have avoid this political circus of Japan with his own point.Either he had no choice in a land where he was a refuge or his secret desire to represent India in an international forum swept him away from rationality.It was just not done by a leader like Bose.                   



Japan’s support to INA was not cordial – it was just an eye wash.

Only a fool would have trust Japan of last century.

The out to out ruthless imperialist nation had it’s hand full of blood. It’s attack on China then various Indo-Dutch colonies across Asia rocked the world during war. In early 1904 it invaded  Korea after defeating Russia in the battle of port Arthur  & it’s  endless tyranny on Korean people took place till 1945. Hitting America at Pearl Harbour in Pacific made them a monster country with an eye to go for bigger gain.Bose knowing all such past of Japan thought this country a friend without knowing much of it’s nature. His various write ups in various publication never contained any clear indication that Japan is also in his mind.He once from India tried to send message to Japan asking their help but his secret courier was captured in the hand of British police. As soon as he took responsibility of  his army & started looking for military support he was upset  to realize that the support is just an eye wash.Bose was not given a free hand to run his administration & there was a middle man kind of organisation created by Japan named HikariKinan which was no match to any of the Allies military force in term of military science. Still Bose had to compromise.

Netaji received Andaman & Nicobar island as a gift from Japan - visiting the jail - Photo from internet.

Netaji received Andaman & Nicobar island as a gift from Japan – visiting the jail – Photo from internet.

He had no choice in hand He knew Japan as a strong military power but never knew Japanese culture  where trusting is an unknown word as far as an outsider is concern.The reason for which Hitlar never accepted Bose in open arm & the reason for which Stalin just ignored Bose were little different from this case.Germany & USSR never took him with enough importance & always had a doubt in his intention.USSR was sure that Bose is  British agent implanted by London to confuse Axis force while Hitlar never had any respect for any Indian. Both the countries had no interest on India in any form.In case of Japan it was little different.Japan had an imperialistic plan across Asia & India was initially a target.That pushed Japan to bomb Calcutta several times in 1942 43 to avow it’s arrival at the door step of Delhi but soon it had a lesson in the hand of Allies that they are no match to American.By the time Bose was giving long speeches in various places of Singapore,Rangoon,Bangkok & collecting fund to built army,bank & many thing else from  thousand of migrant Indians Japan was more busy of protecting it’s own house rather than supporting INA.It is true that Japanese force invaded India & came up to the door step of Imphal but that was only a small part of a smaller plan.It never rendered it’s hand that could have made INA a real strong force to take on Brits.There was no air support provided in Manipur  to INA & very inferior quality arms were given in battle field. There was not enough trucks to transport men,medicines ,food & arms. Many INA soldiers died just lack of medicines & food in the jungle of Arakan in Burma.Bose tried his best to push Tokyo for more but Hikarikinan was no good to do anything of it’s own.It was tightly controlled from Tokyo for whom INA & Bose was no more a big factor. Netaji soon came across with the fact that his over emotion has made things complex & now Japan will only keep him as a show piece of anti British propaganda. Japan also had a plan to use INA to tame the mutiny of Burmese people under the leadership of Ba Maw but Netaji somehow managed to avoid that although INA had it’s head office in Rangoon.This made Japanese angry & Bose’s attitude towards Japan came clear. Soon USSR announced war against Japan on 8th August 1945 & at that time Bose started demanding his removal to USSR ! This was never taken as good gesture by Japanese Govt. They accepted him from Germany when he was almost counted as unwanted there & now when USSR is on war with Japan his wish to go to USSR was noway a satisfactory matter to deal with.                    

The last journey & the last mistake  : Why Soviet Union ? 

In May 1945 INA surrendered at Rangoon & Bose’s dream was shattered once again.

When things were falling apart in front of his eyes Bose was adamant to escape to a land where he is out of the reach of Allied force & USSR came in his mind.In his declaration of war INA never mentioned the name USSR & Bose came under the impression that this will proved him an innocent in the eye of Stalin – he was just making another blunder.

What makes Bose feel that USSR will accept him ? Scholar who have worked on 2nd world war will never be able to justify this fact.Bose from his early days in Indian politics was never close to Indian Communist Party & in his un-finished biography written in mid 1930s he very clearly expressed his apathy to communism & it’s future in India.He rather expressed his profound admiration towards a system made out of balanced blending  dictatorship & democracy.

Bose & Neheru - both were leaned to USSR but Neheru had an acceptance there while Bose was always doubted as a British agent - photo from internet.

Bose & Neheru – both were leaned to USSR but Neheru had an acceptance there while Bose was always doubted as a British agent – photo from internet.

It was a fact that Bose tried to visit USSR in that phase but could not manage visa unlike Jawaharlal Neheru who paid a visit to USSR in the same period.USSR of 1930s made Neheru captivated as it did to Rabindranath Tagore who visited that country in 1930.Both were shown a projected shape of USSR that the ruler of the nation wanted to show.So Neheru who wrote too many good things about that nation  was much accepted a figure from India to USSR than anyone else & Bose was nowhere near to that.USSR always doubted Netaji Bose. His escape to Kabul & then his volatile attempt to contact USSR embassy was not taken kindly by that country.Bose in their eye was just a British agent who for the sake of rebuilding his political career was trying to contact them.More to that flying to Berlin via Moscow was also monitored but he was not given any diplomatic importance ever though Bose was keen to meet Russians.

By the time Bose arrived in Germany the master plan of operation Barbarossa was prepared & USSR was soon attacked by Germany on 22nd June 1941 .It was the time when Bose was enjoying a quasi-diplomatic status in that country.In such a situation USSR had enough reason to believe that Bose is either of no use or a burden to be off loaded.In 1945 at then last phase of war it was very clear that financial dent of Britain will force her to pull back from colonial countries in Asia & Africa.In such a stage inviting Bose to Moscow & fueling his dream of invading India as a national hero was just a meaningless matter for Stalin.Bose whose image as a collaborator of Axis power in Germany & Japan was very obnoxiously illustrated by CPI in India & these support came from Communist Party of Great Britain who used to supply all Bose related information to it’s Indian counterpart.CPI and other Indian communist made Bose such a demon in their various political organs that USSR had to buy the fact that this man ( Bose ) is an enemy to communist country & a flag bearer of Nazism.Still he pressured Japanese to get him to Manchuria which was then under USSR control.

Netaji at an INA function in Singapore - photo from internet.

Netaji at an INA function in Singapore – photo from internet.

Already mentioned that by that time USSR was officially at war with Japan & this request of Bose made Japanese very angry.Still he was given a flight to go there & after that history is fogged.He either died of an air crash in a small island of Taiwan or he arrived USSR only to end his life in an unimaginable pain in some remote prison cell of Russia fully under the knowledge of Stalin & Neheru. Netaji Bose in his long political life had shown sympathy to USSR many a time but never he got any return message from that country. Still his unshaken trust on USSR that it will help him to achieve India’s freedom found fatal  & he proved it by giving his life.

Still  a prince among all patriots :    

With so many political wrong calculation in international arena how the life of Bose casts the longest shadow on India’s struggle of independence ?

Whether he was burnt to death in an isolated island of Taiwan or in a cold prison cell of USSR will rock India for another hundred years. Netaji & the vanquished leaders of INA an almost forgotten foot print of 2nd world war will always remain as an enigma in India only because it was his gargantuan effort that made Indian army feel that they can also take up the arms against their ruler.The trial of POW of  INA in Delhi’s red fort created  a mayhem in India & soon the mutiny in Indian Royal Navy where ” Jai Hind ” the war cry of INA was written on the wall by Indian naval force clearly indicated that fallen mutilated bodies of trained & untrained soldiers of INA at Indo-Burma border in 1944 finally landed at the door of Delhi’s red fort to proclaim freedom for a nation under colonial chain for years.In an article recently published in The Pioneer Deepak Sinha an ex-army & a consultant to “Observer Research Foundation” wrote that even in Britain’s cabinet meeting it was planned to evacuate all British citizens from selected Indian cities as this mutiny in army was taken a final blow to colonize India anymore.This document is now available in British Library for public.Plus in 2012 a survey in Britain cemented the fact that the battle of

Netaji Bose - vanquished but a hero always.Photo from internet.

Netaji Bose – vanquished but a hero always.Photo from internet.

Imphal where INA had a role was the most difficult battle Britain fought in 2nd world war.Amazingly in both the reason that Britain officially recognised as it’s reason to leave India has a long shadow of Netaji Bose.He was not able to reach  red fort but his hard work in the form of INA war prisoner finally reached there.

An officer in Indian army who had the chance to spend time with INA soldiers sent a secret report to SEAC’s Military Intelligence system stating how deeply these soldiers atre inspired by Netaji Bose’s inspiring leadership & it was also mentioned that they are so deeply motivated by patriotism that it was ” doubtful if they can be rehabilitated as soldiers again”  This is  enough to prove that  INA indeed destabilized  India’s military power in form of  passion if not in a form of army.

Let us believe it in fresh mind that a power like Britain did not decide to give India her independence because we refused to give salt tax or  decided to wear ” Khadi”. An English article in English newspaper was not a thing that used to touch India of 1940 but saga of few young men taking up arms against a power thousand time bigger than them & their sacrifice in a remote corner of the world created a tumult in mass as well as in army.The mob that came out on the street of Bombay,Karachi,Calcutta & Madras in support of INA soldiers & soldiers of Royal Indian Navy gave a clear signal to London that it is the time to pack up.

When Bose left India in 1941 Japan was yet to participate in war. Believing Hitlar & Stalin both are great friend of India Bose first tried to reach Russia but finally landed in Germany. With almost zero result he gone to Japan. It is now believed that instead of Kabul if Bose would have fled to Japan in 1941 then he might have reach Calcutta in 1942 with Japanese force & at that point of time Gandhi’s ” Quit India” mayhem would have added with that arm uprising.That would be the best for India but it never happened as it is assumed.Bose landed Japan in such a time when it was late & he had no choice but to go ahead with whatever was possible.There was no lapse in his dream but there was serious lapse in his game plan.

Bose - the last titan-Photo from internet.

Bose – the last titan-Photo from internet.

The best tribute to Bose again came from a Greek & none other than a man whom he once physically abused as a student. His name is Edward Farley Oaten a professor of Presidency College Calcutta where in 1916  Bose as a student of the same college organised a physical attack on him as he ( the professor ) passed some racist comments against Indian. Knowing Bose’s death & his himalayan contribution for his country the teacher who was once insulted in the hand of this student could not hold his emotion & he wrote a poem in the memory of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose where he compared him with famous Greek mythological character Icarus who dared to fly near Sun.The poem written in the most pure touch of respect reads :

“Was mighty Icarus  – like your courage planned/To meet the skies,and the storms in battle set/The ramperts of high Heaven, to claim the debt/Of freedom owed, on plain the rude demand/High heaven yielding, but in dignity./Like Icarus , you sped towards the sea/Your wings were melted from you by the sun/The genial patriot fire that brightly glowed/In India’s mighty heart and flamed & flowed/ Forth from her Army’s thousand victories won”.

……..& the poem starts by saying  ” Did I once suffer Subhash at your hand  ? /Your patriot heart is stilled ! I would forget”.

That is true about Netaji Bose the last titan of our history – we would forget  all of his emotional mistakes but not certainly the noble objective that he inflamed & achieved it by suffering the most .

Reference – books & periodicals. 

English : 

The Statesman – An Anthology ( 1875-1975)

Liberty or Death  by Patrick French

A misguided patriot  by  Mridula Mukherjee – ( India Today – 20th April 2015 )

Bengal Divided – The unmaking of a nation ( 1905-1971)   by Nitish Sengupta.

The Last Days of the Raj  by Trevor Royle

The Korean soul by Susanta K Ghose ( The Statesman – 5th May 2015 )

Netaji’s forgotten Indian Army  by  Deepak Sinha – ( The Pioneer –  4th May 2015 )

Netaji R.I.P  by  Praven Davar  ( The Asian Age – 24th April 2015 )

The Lost Hero by Mihir Bose

Back from Death – inside the Subhash Bose Mystery  by Anuj Dhar

Brother Against the Raj  by  Leonard Gordan.

His Majesty’s Opponent by Sugata Bose

Bengali : 

Subhashchandra o Amara – Ganashakti  – 1996

Desh – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Centenary  – 13th January 1996

Yubashakti  – 1996

Parichay – Shatabarshe Subhash Chandra ( June – August 1996 )

Aparajito Shahitya Patrika – June 1992.

Sharadiya Desh – 1994

Want read more of Somen Sengupta – visit http://www.somensengupta.com


About Somen Sengupta

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5 Responses to Emotional gambit of a titan : Political mistakes of Netaji Bose could not overshadow his gargantuan image.

  1. sanjay says:

    Really interesting and full of information. Very well explained. Kudos to your effort and effeortless writing skills for such smooth flow of timeline in the article, which takes the reader back to the history

  2. Rudra says:

    I used to say, the nutshell of Netaji’s political legacy and miscalculations were informed by Mr. Nitish Sengupta as impartial observer through his book “Land of Two Rivers” but from today I will say Mr. Somen Sengupta’s “Emotional Gambit of a Titan” permanently gave its final destination in my mind. 😊 outstanding writing with such an impartial but heart warming views. Thanks again for dong such well researched gem. 😊

  3. Subhash Das says:

    What I think… may be wrong… but at that point of time, considering all the factors!!
    He knew all about Stalin, but wants to take the ‘risk’ as strategically the then USSR is located very near to India. It could be a great help during a war against British India. Otherwise who want to trust a person who in his whole life never trusted anybody, not even his own comrade in arms?
    Germany on the other hand, biggest threat to England, not Japan. Even during WWI, Germany tried to send arms & ammunition to Indian freedom fighter via sea route.
    Some calculations in which he was not involved, went wrong as the German troops defeated by Russia’s weather rather than Russian soldiers, but if the German troops could have reached India.. then??

  4. Know-All says:

    Wonderfully written article! The fact that Netaji had a fascination for Army cult, as you say, and perhaps even a dictatorial streak, is something I have been told before. But, having said that, I think history surely is full of examples of people siding with the losing side and coming up cropper, and vice versa. I still feel, in that age of difficult accessibility of information, Bose erred in his choices, but what options did he have? He was a fugitive in India, and he took the best possible path…and today we have the luxury of hindsight to conclude that he erred. Maybe, it wasn’t his destiny to lead India to independence. Maybe, his destiny was to capture the imagination of millions of youth, for years after his death/disappearance.

  5. Sandip Mitra says:

    On hindsight it may appear that some (as I feel) or almost all (as you do) the political calculations of Subhas Bose were wrong because he was naive (innocent, as you say), reckless, had a militaristic bend of mind or a streak of dictatorship. In your long analysis of various events during the period that Bose was active in Indian politics and his exploits (or misadventures – depending on the perspective) in Germany and Japan, you have not explained as to why he took the decision to embark on an uncertain course. It was not that he shunned Congress politics from the beginning! He was a Congressman and became its President for the second time. It was only when he found that Gandhiji was out to avenge his candidate’s defeat by Bose and that Congress was hell bent upon helping the British in their war efforts, rather than hitting them hard when they were at their weakest as desired by Bose, that he thought of leaving the Congress and try a different way to attain his only goal: India’s freedom. You have cleverly mentioned the idea that the British/Ameican intelligence knew of every move that Bose was taking (including his submarine voyage) but allowed all that simply to expose him! If that’s logic, I don’t know what illogical means. It seems that you also believe that Netaji was in fact an MI 6 Agent – a notion that was very cleverly planted in various media at one time! You have cited many sources to buttress a very negative image of Netaji and the INA, but strangely enough avoided mentioning one of the most authentic accounts by Hugh Toye (The Springing Tiger). That could have given the blog a little more perspective. Anyhow, even after all you wrote to prove that Netaji’s plans were all based on wrong and insufficient analysis of domestic and world events, one thing even you had to admit. And that is, one of the principal reasons that the British hurriedly left India was the impact of Netaji and the INA – the same INA which in your view was nothing but a parading show piece of an Army, that had almost nil participation in any war! So, even when he was not in the scene any more, Netaji and his INA attained their only goal, viz. “India’s Freedom”. No, Mr. Sengupta, your claim that you believe in history based on logic does not appear convincing. Your true belief is hardly concealed behind the facade of an unbiased analysis of Subhas Chandra Bose.

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