Netaji: The Leftist Intellectual?
Subhash Chandra Bose
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose believed in the political philosophy of Marxism-Leninism. In fact, as far as I am aware, most of the officers and soldiers of The Indian National Army (INA) were Marxists and they believed in socialism. Not merely so, the members of the Indian Naval Mutiny of 1946 against British were also Marxists. The three brave INA officers, Colonel Shah Nawaz Khan whose political views were leftist, Colonel Prem Kumar Sahgal was a firm believer in communist ideology and was an atheist and Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon believed in socialism as well.
The Bose-Communist relationship was also developed significantly during the Seventh and last Congress of the Comintern (July-August 1935), was held in Moscow which approved a dramatic change in Comintern policy. The communists then began to work with Indian National Congress (INC) through the Congress Socialist Party (CSP). They also broke away the Red Trade Union Congress and re-joined the AITUC in 1931, the oldest trade union federations in India. Netaji was then the president of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee (BPCC) and he reciprocated to the changed attitude of the Communists by introducing a couple of renowned communists, Bankim Mukherjee and Panchu Gopal Bhaduri in the BPCC as Vice President and Assistant Secretary respectively.
Bit by bit, a four-prolonged alliance with the Communists, Royalists, CSP, and left-nationalists industrialized in the INC and it finally covered the way for the growth of a Left consolidation Committee within the INC. In 1937, with the election of Subhas Chandra Bose as the president of the INC in Haripur, the step up of the consolidation of the left forces within the INC was significantly well and it inexorably led to the Left-Right confrontation in the INC. It was in this context, the debate over the re-election of S. C. Bose as Congress President arrived at the forefront.
In this connection, let’s not shun the interesting fact is that the first among those who demanded re-election of Bose as Congress President was none but the communists. Ajoy Kumar Ghosh, a noted leader of Communist Party of India (CPI) and the member of the editorial board of the Party’s mouthpiece, ‘The National Front’, who had a pretty good reason as to why the communists campaigned for his re-election and Mr. Ghosh expressed, “Bose stood for struggle, for unity in the congress, for unity between congress and the workers and peasants organizations, for active support to the State’s People’s movement. Moreover he like Nehru, could maintain the unity of the Congress—a unity that was essential for the success of the struggle that loomed ahead”. (Book Ref: “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Indian Freedom Struggle” edited by Ratna Ghosh).
Netaji was fervidly against the capitalist structure of economy and was a strong votary of socialism and advocated the peasants and the browbeaten to liberate themselves from the capitalist fetters. Bose had fomented a highly passionate desire for independence and the greatest role to oust British imperialism from Indian soil. He knew that individual heroism could not attain the desired goal. He, therefore, on 3rd May of 1939, formed the Forward bloc. Forward Bloc—“A voice for the voiceless”. The All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) is undoubtedly a left-wing nationalist political party in India. At the outset, the goal of the Bloc was to rally all the leftwing sections within the Congress and build up a unique leadership within the Congress.
Bose became the Mayor of Calcutta on 22nd of August, 1930 and made his first speech as Mayor--the passionate young Bose first uttered his support for a fusion of socialism and fascism. Indeed, Netaji’s philosophical bedrock was a fusion of nationalism and socialism. Let me discuss about some of his favourite books: “Bolshevism, fascism and democracy” (1927) by Francesco Saverio Nitti, Margaret M Green. This book is mainly based on Democracy, Communism and Fascism. Nitti was an Italian Economist and Statesman. He also read “From Socialism to Fascism: A Study of Contemporary Italy” (1924) by Ivanoe Bonomi who was an Italian politician and statesman. Bose was an avid reader on socialism and communism. More, Netaji was one of the most well-read persons of his time, having his novel views on matters of social, philosophical, history, national, economic and political importance, many of which are relevant and inspiring even today.
On the last day of World War 2: Netaji’s speech to students at Tokyo. Bose said, "India's philosophy must be a fusion between National Socialism and Communism." He also quoted that Soviet Union will play a big role in carving the future of India.
Bose laid the accountability of reconstructing of India on the young shoulders, for he knew that their undaunted courage, penetrating minds, creative ideals and burning conscience alone could rescue India from the mire of grief and problems. Netaji fought against not only the British force but many other forces. Today, he stands as a radiant inspiration and mentor. We need to stand firm and strong, averting all adverse currents, which intend to throw our peace and progress in shambles.
(This piece is on Netaji’s 119th Birth Anniversary that was celebrated on 23rd of January. The views expressed are the author’s own).