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‘Netaji made the British nervous about Indian Army’

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New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) Netaji Subhas Chandra Boses 125th birth anniversary will be celebrated with great fanfare on January 23.

Ahead othe special day, IANS spoke to Shakti Sinha, Director of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Policy Research and International Studies, MS University, Vadodara, who is also a distinguished fellow at India Foundation.

Sinha was the former Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) and was part of the Indian Administrative Service from the 1979 batch. He had also served as a Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office in the past.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Why is Netaji so important in BJP’s scheme of things?

A: If you would have been brought up in the 60s and 70s, there existed a narrative that freedom was won under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi while Jawaharlal Nehru was the next big leader. As a result, many others who contributed to the freedom struggle went unmentioned.

I would say the list includes Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. During the freedom struggle, Netaji had to leave the Congress party. He was pushed out. We have to understand that apart from Gandhi, there were many big leaders who participated in the freedom struggle. It was because of Netaji that the British became very nervous about the Indian Army. So India got freedom not only because of civil disobedience, but also because of the threat to the British Raj from within. It is for this reason that Netaji is so relevant to the BJP.

Q: How do you see the preparations for the birth anniversary celebrations of Netaji?

A: It is a broad-based committee (the high-level committee formed by the Centre to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Bose) and took people from every political ideology. Netaji was a broad-based person and was also influential in his own time. The idea is to let people judge Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Q: Do you feel that Netaji is being consumed for electoral ends? In 2016, six months before state elections in West Bengal, the television was filled with Netaji stories…

A: Political parties will do these things. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Netaji museum in New Delhi’s Red Fort in 2018. The effort to understand Netaji and bring him to the public eye has been there for a long time. But I would say that it is not only about the elections.

Q: Do you think that Netaji can again become an issue in the coming West Bengal Assembly elections?

A: I don’t know why Netaji should be an issue. If people have forgotten him, then you cannot accuse someone of appropriating his legacy. BJP’s inherent values and Netaji’s eco system were pretty different, but if the BJP, despite the ideological issues, can appreciate a nationalist, then why not? It should not be an issue. Others can also own up to him. The point is why is our own leader being ignored and if someone is appropriating him, then it cannot be grudged.

–IANS

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