Date: 23 Jan 2010


Netaji and his INA played a crucial role in the British decision to quit India, says Sujit Sankar Chattopadhyay...///////////////// It is well known that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did not get a good Press till recently from any of the important political parties in his time. The Congress naturally disapproved of his open defiance of MK Gandhi in the Tripuri election; the Communists were hardly expected to praise anyone who sought the aid of Axis powers for attaining India’s freedom through military operations. (They have since revised their opinion, though.) There was a tendency even among the general readers of history to brush aside his military adventure as a romantic exercise in futility.//////////////// The only piece of documentary evidence which seems to highlight the importance of Bose’s military operation with the help of the Japanese Army comes from a letter written by PB Chuckraborty, the then Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, who had met Clement Attlee at a tea party in 1956 in Kolkata when the latter had visited India and asked him about the role of Bose and his INA in the transfer of power.//////////////////// The following is an extract from his letter to a friend dated March 30, 1976 (as reported in a blog, Friends of India, on August 13, 2007): ////////////////// “When I was acting as Governor of West Bengal in 1956, Lord Clement Attlee who as the British Prime Minister in post-War years was responsible for India’s freedom, visited India and stayed in Raj Bhavan, Calcutta, for two days and I put it straight to him like this: ‘The Quit India Movement of Gandhi practically died out long before 1947 and there was nothing in the Indian situation at that time, which made it necessary for the British to leave India in a hurry. Why then did they do so?’ //////////////// “In reply, Attlee cited several reasons, the most important of which were the INA activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which weakened the very foundation of the British Empire in India, and the RIN mutiny which made the British realise that the Indian armed forces could no longer be trusted to prop up the British. When asked about the extent to which the British decision to quit India was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 movement, Attlee’s lips widened in a smile of disdain and he uttered, slowly, ‘Minimal’.” /////////////////// For a long time this was the sole evidence of the most important decision-maker in the transfer of power about the important role played by Bose. I want to draw the attention of the readers of The Pioneer to circumstantial evidence in support of this document which was furnished by the eminent historian, Prof Barun De, in an article published in The Telegraph, Kolkata. I met Prof De on January 18 and again he confirmed the incident, although he could not recount the exact date. The incident is as follows: //////////////// One morning, while studying at Oxford University, Prof De and his friend Kamal Hasan had gone for breakfast at Nuffield Hall where they chanced upon old Earl Attlee. Prof De and his friend went up to him, introduced themselves and put the question raised in the letter of PB Chuckraborty, about the crucial role of Bose and his INA in hastening the independence of India by completely shaking the confidence of the British Government in the loyalty of Indian troops. Attlee confirmed the statement he had purportedly made earlier and also his assessment of the relatively unimportant role of Gandhi’s movement on the transfer of power. ///////////// Prof De’s brief article in The Telegraph is very important because this is a confirmation in writing by a leading historian of the Left about the assessment of the then British Prime Minister on the role of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the forgotten national hero whose birth anniversary is observed on January 23, in hastening India’s independence./////////////////// -- The writer is a former Secretary to the Government of India. /////////////// 000000000