Narendra Modi’s critics always like to question him on what he has done or plans to do on each and every particular issue of national interest or relevance. This is not only because he is the Prime Minister but a decisive, strong one at that! Since Subhash Chandra Bose is an icon of Indian nationalism, a comparison between Netaji and Modi, though not conforming to propriety, is unavoidable; particularly as Narendra Modi wants to lead the nation for another term of 5 years. Perhaps the only thing both his supporters and vehement detractors will agree upon is that he has changed the Indian political landscape beyond measure (for the latter in the fact that all the ills in the country only started from May 2014). While Netaji’s place in the pantheon of freedom fighters is undisputed, his renunciation of material trappings, the appropriation of which is almost de-rigueur in Indian Politics; is perhaps what causes the biggest heartburn. After all, giving up on the ICS in pre-independence India, or having the calibre of forming and leading the INA are a good enough causes that can stimulate extreme jealousy amongst the unworthy.
After all, jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity, as Robert A. Heinlein once said!
Selective, Convenient Amnesiacs
In India today, we have quite a few people, particularly politicians, who suffer from selective (and convenient) amnesia when it comes to recognizing the peerless contribution of Netaji to the freedom struggle of India. Not only that! They even go as far as putting forth negative points to disregard his contributions even more comprehensively. It is surprising that any political discourse about Netaji’s contributions to India’s aspirations invariably veers towards a carefully crafted but facile question about the ethics and morality in electing to seek assistance from Nazi Germany. The reason it is facile is that the extent of Hitler’s crimes only got exposed to the world only after 1945 and at the time of Netaji’s famous escape from the British House arrest, Soviet Russia and Germany were in an alliance under the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement.
The Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) in West Bengal, never shied away from posing this moral question, whenever the electorate or its own cadres got inspired by Netaji. A clever tactical ploy lest anyone got inspired to resist their path of ruin for Bengal, since he could not be attacked on their favourite ploy of secularism. It was only in the early 2000 that Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharya owned up the mistake in doubting the patriotism of Netaji. The ex West Bengal chief minister said :
It is unfortunate that we, the Communists, doubted Netaji’s fiery patriotism and selfless sacrifice. Though Netaji disassociated himself from Gandhiji, his role during the liberation struggle should not be viewed in isolation. He may not have achieved success by joining hands with the Axis powers, but his contribution to the freedom movement will always be remembered
I feel that the Congress even surpassed the CPI-M in this hypocrisy. The Congress tactic was two-fold. The first was to let their tribe of quasi-historians weave a fantasy extolling the virtues of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence as being the main reason in having the British leave. The second was their marginalization of every national leader to elevate Jawaharlal Nehru and his dynasty to a pedestal. No wonder that modern India holds this dynasty responsible for India’s backwardness even after 70 years of independence. They also found their electoral partners’ (CPIM) character assassination quite useful in their efforts to marginalize Netaji .
The Return of Netaji
It is in the context of Netaji that the hypocrisy of Mr. Modi’s critics shines through when they question what did Mr. Modi do. It is only under this NDA government that Netaji has received the kind of adulation that he truly deserves, and which his own party tended to not give him at various points in time.
So, the question is: what all did Modi do for Netaji?
Narendra Modi de-classified all the secret files pertaining to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, so that historians could independently research all government records pertaining to this patriot and not just rely on a quasi-narrative by pretenders assuming the garb of historians.
Narendra Modi announced renaming of three islands of Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The Ross Island was renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep. Very few people in India know that Netaji had first made India’s independence resolution of Azad Hind government from the soil of Andaman on December 30, 1943.
Narendra Modi inaugurated the Indian National Army (INA) museum in Red Fort to showcase Netaji’s life and achievements to inspire India’s youth about his life of sacrifice.
Commendable, right? Not quite in the eyes of many!
I have no doubt that this, as all other such acts by Narendra Modi, will be met with disdainful dismissal. After all, it is but expected that, those who have built their political fortunes dismissing the achievements of Netaji, will do the same with Narendra Modi.
 The Times News Network. “CPM wakes up, finds Netaji not Tojo’s dog”. The Economic Times. 24 January 2003. Available here.
 The Times News Network. “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose wanted ruthless dictatorship in India for 20 years”. The Times of India. 24 January 2016. Available here.
(Header Picture Credit: Manish Prabhune, here; editorial inputs by Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar)