Netaji’s kin anxious about unity of nation on eve of grand birthday occasions

Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s unassailable commitment to secularism has returned to haunt Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is all set to visit Kolkata on January 23 to take part in Bose’s 124th birth anniversary celebrations.

Two of Netaji’s grandnephews, both public figures, have thought the occasion appropriate to highlight the threat posed by communalism to unity of the country.

Like previous years, the Netaji Research Bureau (NRB) — headed by Netaji’s grandnephew Sugata Bose — will organise a function on January 23 to pay homage to the intrepid freedom fighter.

The Netaji Award instituted by the NRB would be this time given posthumously to Abid Hassan, a close associate of Netaji who sailed with him in a German U-boat in 1943 on Bose’s voyage to South East Asia in the middle of the Second World War.

Sugata, who is on the faculty of History in Harvard University, and also a former Trinamool Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha member, is also slated to give a speech on Saturday on the subject of “Netaji, Abid Hasan and the Unity of India”.

In the biography of Bose written by Sugata — “His Majesty’s Opponent” — he has earlier chronicled how Netaji was able to overcome the challenge posed by the varied religious affiliations of the personnel of the Indian National Army.

“The treatment meted out to minorities is tragic and far removed from Netaji’s ideals”, Sugata Bose told The Tribune, explaining why he would be speaking on the issue of unity of India in the context of Netaji and Abid Hasan’s relationship.

Despite being the chief of the NRB, which has played a key role in documenting information about Netaji, Sugata has not been invited for either of the two programmes — a seminar at National Library and an exhibition on Netaji at Victoria Memorial — which Narendra Modi will be attending during his January 23 visit to Kolkata.

Chandra Bose, who, too, is a grandnephew of Netaji, said upholding the principle of secularism would be the best way to pay tribute to Netaji. Chandra, who has contested Lok the Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections in West Bengal as a BJP candidate, said he felt compelled to say that Netaji’s idea of harmonious co-existence of people of various communities in India was facing serious threat.

While stating that he and some other members of the Bose family would be present at the function at Victoria Memorial on Saturday, Bose said if the communal situation in the country was allowed to deteriorate further, the unity of India would come under threat.

Chandra Bose said while Modi’s slogan of “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” sounded good, it was high time that the idea behind the slogan was followed in letter and spirit.

Modi’s visit to Kolkata on Saturday to pay homage to Bose is widely believed to be aimed at impressing the Bengali voters before the fast approaching Assembly elections in the state.

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