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What if Nehru and Netaji sank their differences to chalk out a common path?

What if Nehru and Netaji sank their differences to chalk out a common path?

By Vishnu Makhijani

New Delhi, Nov 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) A comparison between Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose "is the most fascinating" because of their similarities and dissimilarities and of the outcome had they "been able to chalk out a common programme", scholar, Parliamentarian and Bose family member Krishna Bose writes in a compilation titled 'Netaji: Subhas Chandra Boses Life, Politics & Struggle, translated by her youngest son, Sumantra Bose, and published by Picador India.


"It rarely happens in history that a nation produces around the same time, leaders of the calibre of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose.

"Of all the brilliant leaders of that era, a comparison of Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose is the most fascinating because it reveals certain similarities but at the same time dissimilarities between the two men. It's intriguing to speculate what would have happened if the two had been able to chalk out a common programme and India had been served at once by her two great sons," Krishna Bose, who was married to Sisir Kumar Bose, son of Netaji's elder brother and long-time confidant Sarat Chandra Bose, wrote in an article in 'The Statesman' soon after the death of India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

"But that was not to be. By 1939, a deep divide separated the two men. In April 1939, after the contentious and personally traumatic Tripuri session of the Indian National Congress, Bose wrote with manifest bitterness -- 'Nobody has done more harm to me personally and to our cause in this crisis than Pandit Nehru'. And, during the war, when rumours reached India that Bose was coming with the victorious Japanese, Nehru declared that he would meet him with a drawn sword," Krishna Bose, a three-term member of the Lok Sabha, wrote.

When Nehru and Bose first appeared on India's political scene in the early 1920s, "they appeared alike in many ways. Both emerged as leaders of youth and both had a magnetic charm about them. No other leaders of the time possessed this youthful charm which cast a spell on the nationalist masses", Krishna Bose wrote.

At the beginning of their political careers, both seemed to have a good deal in common.

"Their modernist orientation in politics and economics distinguished them from the deep-dyed Gandhians. Nehru and Bose shared a scientific approach towards India's problems which was fundamentally opposed to the Gandhian creed of spinning our way to Swaraj and theories of non-industrialisation. But while Subhas would openly profess his views, Nehru was forever wavering between his loyalty to Gandhi and his own convictions."

Then, in November 1938, as the Gandhi-Bose confrontation loomed, Rabindranath Tagore wanted a "modernist" as Congress President.

But, there was also an important field in which Nehru and Bose showed an interest: International affairs.

"That was unlike other Congress leaders, including Gandhi, who, when abroad, spent more time preaching principles of non-violence and the virtues of vegetarianism than in making India's case for freedom. Both Nehru and Bose travelled extensively in Europe and helped to win friends there for India's cause," Krishna Bose wrote.

"The basic difference between the two men is summed up in one remark in a letter of Nehru to Bose. This was in Nehru's reply to a letter Bose had written him in 27 typed sheets. Bose had written: 'I have looked upon you as politically an elder brother and leader and often sought your advice'."

This sentiment was appreciated by Nehru, who wrote back: "I am grateful to you for this. Personally I have always had, and still have regard and affection for you though sometimes I do not like at all what you did or how you did it."

Why so? According to Nehru: "To some extent, I suppose, we are temperamentally different and our approach to life and its problems are not the same."

Besides the difference in temperament, one other factor came between the two men: Mahatma Gandhi. Nehru had a practically unconditional allegiance to Gandhi and Gandhi exercised a hypnotic power over him. But Bose, while being respectful of Gandhi, was not as mesmerised.

"Like Bose, Nehru did not agree with Gandhi on many matters big and small. But whenever a dilemma or crisis arose, he surrendered to Gandhi's will. Gandhi too showed great patience with Nehru in disagreement (but) did not show Bose the same affectionate consideration, above all in 1939, after Bose was re-elected to the Congress presidency against Gandhi's wishes and candidate in a democratic vote," Krishna Bose wrote.

Noting that a Bose-Nehru 'progressive' alliance "remains one of the most intriguing counterfactual scenarios of Indian history", Krishna Bose wrote: "But it could be that Nehru regarded the younger man not so much as a potential ally but as a powerful rival to India's post-Gandhi leadership."

"The ultimate destinies of the two men were very different, and so is their place in Indian, Asian and world history. Jawaharlal Nehru is chiefly remembered today for his 17 years in power in post-colonial India. Subhas Chandra Bose, on the other hand, lives in history and in the history of the Indian people as the leader who challenged the colonial power," Krishna Bose concluded.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at

Source: IANS

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What if Nehru and Netaji sank their differences to chalk out a common path?

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