What did Jawaharlal Nehru fear when he continued IB snooping?
10/3/2017 6:50:39 PM
|written By : M J Akbar|
Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were too similar to cooperate beyond a point, for there was only one place at the top and Gandhi had reserved it for Nehru.
Both came from privileged families. Both harvested an excellent education into intellectually stimulating public discourse and books: While Nehru was descriptive, perceptive and sometimes lyrical, Bose was analytical and strategic. Both could have been glamorous pillars of the Raj but chose a lifetime of sacrifice and struggle in the cause of freedom. Both leaned to the Left without toppling into communism. Both were heroes, whose private lives were also a testimony to their extraordinary charisma. Both were nationalists as well as internationalists.
It is not widely known that when Bose chose to enter World War-II as an ally of the Axis powers, he told Japan that he had no desire to replace the British empire with a Japanese one. Both were fiercely independent.
Gandhi took an early, and still unexplained, dislike to Bose. Perhaps the Mahatma saw in Bose the one national hero who could interfere with his plans for Nehru. When Bose once welcomed Gandhi in Bengal with a parade by volunteers, Gandhi mocked Bose with uncharacteristic venom.
Gandhi handed over leadership of the mass campaign for the crucial 1937 general elections to Nehru. But within a year Bose proved that he was not only more popular than Nehru but even Gandhi in the Congress when he was elected party president at Haripura in 1938, against Gandhi’s expressed wish. He could not, of course, function without Gandhi’s cooperation; the rift was complete. Bose started his own party.
The conventional view was that Bose had marginalised himself out of national space by leaving Gandhi, Congress and then the country by 1941. Two events in 1946 proved that this view was utterly wrong. The revolt in the Indian Navy in February was evidence that Bose’s influence in the armed forces was beyond the control of the British. And the trial of Bose’s INA veterans at the Red Fort for treason led to such mass rage that British rule was no longer tenable. India’s young had spoken. And they had spoken in the voice of Bose.
British fear of Bose and his family was well-founded. But what did Nehru fear when he continued the Intelligence Bureau surveillance for as long as he was Prime Minister? Bose’s death in an air crash was always a mystery trapped in fog. What swirls the most in any mist? Rumour. But rumour apart, there was uncertainty at the highest levels about whether Bose had actually died or not. One way to establish facts would be to check whether Bose kept any form of contact with Calcutta and his family. So letters were intercepted, and watch kept on visitors.