Subhash Chandra  Bose was one of the titans of the freedom struggle. He could have been a source of great inspiration to the youth of India, but fate played a trick on the Indian youth and this icon was downplayed by the Congress party and leadership and Gandhi and Nehru projected as the men who were the 'real' leaders of India. The situation is so bad that many of the young in India have not heard of Bose and his birthday is not a national holiday.   Arnold Toynbee the great historian in his biography of Bose titled " Tiger Springs" mentions that Bose should have been the role model for the young in India as he was the first Hindu leader after Samrat HemChandra Vikramaditya who raised the banner of revolt and military thought. Gandhi and Nehru always towed the English line and in a way supported the British. The fact that both Gandhi and Nehru agreed that if captured, Bose could be tried as a war criminal, speaks volumes about the attitude of these two leaders.

Bose was always an aggressive leader and this was never to the liking of Gandhi.  In 1928 Bose organized a meeting of Congress workers in Calcutta. About 2000 workers turned up who were fired by the zeal of Bose. This was not a normal meeting as all the 2000 workers were given a military uniform to wear with sticks and paraded up and down. Bose himself wore the uniform of a general and carried a baton like a general with him. The culmination was a parade and a guard of honor, where Subhash Bose took the salute. Gandhi was invited, but he didn't turn up.

Later Gandhi and Nehru disapproved of this parade and mentioned that the only way he could approve was non-violence. The seeds of conflict between Gandhi and Bose were thus sown. In the 1938 Congress party elections Gandhi made it a prestige issue. He wished that his candidate Pattibhiraman be elected as president and Bose was advised to withdraw as he would be defeated. We all know that Gandhi's nominee was trounced and Bose became the  Congress party president. Gandhi took this defeat to heart and declared he would not cooperate with Bose and Nehru also started avoiding Bose. Other leaders of the Congress working committee ( CWC) who were stooges of Gandhi also ganged up against Bose. There was no choice for Bose, but to resign and chalk out his independent course of action. The dice was cast and Bose was made an outcast of the freedom movement.

This is the tragedy of India that a great leader, whatever his faults who could have been a role model for the young men of India, was consigned as a minor character in the Independence movement. Times however change and perhaps now with the BJP government in power, the wrong done to Bose will be corrected and he will be recognized as the greatest leader in the freedom movement, who in real terms won freedom for India.


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