Debunking the Propaganda: Was Netaji Leftist and Anti-Hindutva?

The recent glorification of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and his Azad Hind Government by Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have provoked the ire of many. Since last few days, I have come across countless articles on mainstream and social media, trying to prove that Netaji was very much against the RSS/Hindu Mahasabha and that he was a leftist. All of them are half-baked arguments and outright lies.

Just yesterday, I came across an article where it was claimed that Netaji was dead against Hindu Mahasabha leader and ideologue Veer Savarkar, but unfortunately the writer couldn’t even produce a couple of quotations or evidence to back up the claim.

As a person who takes immense pride to call himself a Bengali Right Winger, I believe it becomes a duty for me to not only address the false propaganda that is being run to prove Netaji a leftist and an opponent of the Hindutva, but also refute it through undeniable historical facts. I will break down my entire argument in three parts, to make it easy to understand for the readers.

Was Netaji A Leftist?

First of all there is a hell and heaven difference between what used to be the ‘left’ during the pre-independence days and what it is today. To understand whether Netaji was a leftist, we first need to understand what defines a Leftist?

Across the world, there are two ways of defining Left and Right, economical and social. In USA, where Capitalism is unanimously accepted as the state economic policy, the Left and Right of the politics is defined by the social views of the respective parties. The Right is represented by Republicans and the Left by Democrats in USA, though in a political system where the wings are determined by economic views, both these parties would fall on the Right side of the spectrum.

So if we are going the economic way, then yes Netaji was a leftist. So was Gandhi ji, Bhagat Singh, and a whole lot of people including German dictator, Adolf Hitler. The socio-economic thinkers of the RSS, such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Dattopant Thengadi, should also be ‘Leftist’ if we are defining “Left” through economic ideas. As a matter of fact, the economic views of the RSS are more Left than perhaps even those of the Government of China. Which is why the Congress in 80’s used to ridicule the RSS as ‘Hindu communists’ and even today those supporting absolute free market, call the RSS and its supporters as ‘cow-munists’.

Economically, even the BJP has to be considered a Leftist party, because officially it adheres to Gandhian Socialism. But in India, social views takes precedence over economic views while defining Left and Right. Which is exactly why we consider the likes of Veer Savarkar and Guruji Golwalkar as Right wing thinkers, despite them not writing a single sentence in their entire lives to support Capitalism.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was an ardent Nationalist and a devout Hindu, who even in foreign, used to start his day by reciting Sri Sri Chandi from Markandeya Purana. This was in total contrast to what is generally understood from Leftist social view (e.g atheism, internationalism). For Netaji the source of inspiration were not the revolutionaries from far away foreign lands, but the saints of his very motherland.

On Vivekananda, Bose wrote:

“I cannot write about Vivekananda without going into raptures. Reckless in his sacrifice, unceasing in his activity, boundless in his love, profound and versatile in his wisdom, exuberant in his emotions… I can go on for hours and yet fail to do the slightest justice to that great man. He was so great, so profound, so complex. He was a Yogi of the highest spiritual level, in direct communion with the Truth, who consecrated his whole life to the moral and spiritual uplift of humanity.”

Was Netaji against the RSS/Hindu Mahasabha and Veer Savarkar?

Before leaving for abroad, Netaji had meetings with various revolutionary leaders, which included Veer Savarkar. Actually it is said, that Savarkar had advised Netaji to sought help from opponents of the British Empire in second World War, which of-course were the Axis powers. Netaji’s friend and philosopher, Ras Behari Bose was not only an active member of the Hindu Mahasabha, but also the founding President of the party’s unit in Japan.

Ras Behari Bose was a great admirer of Veer Savarkar, and had glorified him in several essays. Netaji personally had met with RSS founder KB Hedgewar twice. First during the Congress session of 1928 at Calcutta, three years after the establishment of RSS. The second meeting took place in 1940, when Netaji, who was at Nagpur to address a session of the Forward Bloc, paid a visit to the RSS headquarters. Though because of being seriously ill, Hedgewar ji couldn’t speak much and later passed away in the same week.

“If I put together views of influential persons on Savarkar as mentioned above, Savarkar’s heroism, valor, adventure, and epitome of patriotism’. ‘To praise him is to praise the spirit of sacrifice’. He is the one ‘who always kept the fire of India’s freedom burning; he is a patriot who risked his life for the freedom of India in the early 20th century and is a founder exponent of the doctrine of cultural independence in the current times,” Ras Behari Bose said about Veer Savarkar in 1939 issues of Japanese Magazine Dai Ajia Shugi (Greater Asianism).

Yes it’s true that Savarkar opposed Gandhi’s quit India movement, because he believed it to be nothing more than a gimmick of the Congress party. It is also true that during the second World War, Savarkar encouraged Indian youth to join the British army, because he wanted them to receive advanced military training from the Britishers and later use it for the cause of Indian liberation. While Congress, lacking farsightedness condemned Savarkar’s call for the Indian youth to join Army, Subhash Chandra Bose not only did understand the real purpose behind the call but also acknowledged it through one of his radio broadcasts.

“When due to misguided political whims and lack of vision, almost all the leaders of Congress party have been decrying all the soldiers in Indian Army as mercenaries, it is heartening to know that Veer Savarkar is fearlessly exhorting the youths of India to enlist in armed forces. These enlisted youths themselves provide us with trained men and soldiers for our Indian National Army,” Netaji said on June 25, 1944, in his speech on Azad Hind Radio.

During the disbanding ceremony of revolutionary organization Abhinav Bharat after independence, Savarkar ended his speech with the slogan of “long live Deathless Subhash.” Were there differences of views between the two? Definitely there were, otherwise either Savarkar would have been in Forward Bloc or Netaji in Hindu Mahasabha. But that doesn’t mean that they were opposed to each other, instead they maintained mutual respect for each other till the very end.

Is Narendra Modi doing politics over Netaji?

I believe, instead of hurling baseless allegations, the Prime Minister’s critics should learn a lesson or two about broad-mindedness from him. Mr. Modi is setting great example of democratic values by honoring all the great personalities of this Nation, irrespective of their political views. But people who look at everything through the prism of politics only, are finding it too difficult to digest. They can’t be blamed either, till now we have known politicians who only used to honor those greats, with whom their ideology matched. Narendra Modi is a bit different.

Not only Netaji, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greatly respects Dr. BR Ambedkar, a person who perhaps was the most harshest critic of certain tenets of Hinduism, most particularly caste-system. Prime Minister is going to unveil a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, someone who had banned the RSS. He also greatly admires and respects Mahatma Gandhi, someone with whom RSS has had countless disagreements.

Regardless of their political and ideological views, all the above mentioned men have made great contributions to make India, as we know it today. Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has moved beyond the sectarian ideas of Left and Right to become a true Indian-ist.

Is Narendra Modi doing all these for votes? In a healthy democracy it is only natural that a ruling party gets rewarded for their good works through votes. Why do you think political parties exist? They exist to rule, to rule they need votes and for votes, they need to good work. Giving the long due honor to the Nation’s greats is indeed a good work and if for that the BJP gets rewarded with a few votes, there is absolutely nothing wrong in it.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi.