04 December, 2020

What If Netaji Came Back?

Had he played his cards well, displayed organisational rigour and ideological flexibility, he may well have become the prime minister of India's first non-Congress government.

Hulton Archive
What If Netaji Came Back?
Among the nationalists who deviated from the path set by Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose was among the tallest. Although marginalised after his resignation as Congress president in 1939, Bose acquired a legendary status with his escape to Germany and his subsequent emergence as head of the INA in Southeast Asia. Militarily, the INA was an appendage of the Japanese army but politically it symbolised uncompromising opposition to British imperialism. Bose’s intransigence was in contrast to the Congress’ on-off militancy.

Bose’s disappearance in August 1945 was a relief to many. The British were saved the problem of having to try Bose for treason. Had Bose been put on trial, the ferocity of popular reaction would’ve been many times greater than that witnessed during the 1946 INA trials. The implications of a defiant Netaji using the court to posit an uncompromising Indian nationalism would have been far-reaching.

Yet, in 1946, the British had already decided to leave India to "God and anarchy". The primary casualty of Bose’s re-emergence would have been the...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Swapan Dasgupta

Latest Magazine

December 07, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section