“Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble."
The Ousting of Netaji Subhas Bose, Part I
Hi, Everyone! Gandhi’s scheming had no limits. He was the virtual dictator of the Congress and brooked no opposition. This is an interesting and illuminating account of his machinations to prevail despite an apparent “defeat.”
Subhas Chandra Bose, the President of Congress in 1938, had displeased the Mahatma on several counts by showing a tendency of strong leadership and taking decisive stands on several issues against the Mahatma’s wishes. He had a large following in the Congress. There was a real potential danger of the power slipping from the hands of the Mahatma into the hands of the dynamic Bose!
Keer writes in his biography of Gandhi (pages 658-661):
“The National Committee had been set up by Bose to draw up a comprehensive plan of industrialization and of national development. This meant a threat to Gandhi’s ideology and his ideas about village uplift. He discussed the question of the presidency with Sardar Patel . . . ‘I feel it would be better if we consider Pattabhi Sitaramayya.’ Gandhi and Patel always took the decision and the Gandhi group said ditto to it. . . .
Subhas Bose had already decided to contest the election a second time, and the Gandhi group knew it. Bose wanted to give an ultimatum to the British Government if he succeeded. . . . But on January 19, 1939, Gandhi wired from Bardoli requesting him to withdraw in favor of Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Bose refused . . . The next day seven Gandhi leaders . . . issued at the instance of Gandhi, a joint statement from Bardoli which declared that the Congress President’s position was analogous only to that of a chairman and the policies and programmes were determined by the Working Committee. . . .
Subhas Bose replied to the joint statement fearlessly and spiritedly but without counting the cost. . . . He then leveled charges against his Gandhian colleagues that ‘it is widely believed that there is a prospect of compromise on the federal scheme between the Right wing of the Congress and the British Government, during the coming year. Consequently the Right wing do not want a Leftist president who may be a thorn in the way of compromise.’ . . .
Subhas Bose would have done well to stop at this affront; but he added fuel to the flames. He added that it was also generally believed the prospective list of ministers for the Federal Cabinet had been already drawn up. This was a most damaging statement against the Gandhists. . .
The Gandhi wing through which Gandhi controlled the Congress organization began canvassing to secure votes for Dr. Pattabhi . . .”
Even so the Leftists and the progressive-minded voters enthusiastically voted for Bose on January 29. This was a shocking reversal for Gandhi and his power in the Congress. A defeat indeed!
Gandhi’s reaction to this defeat:
“He asked his followers to quit the Congress because he was defeated. This was how his mind, method and democracy worked!
‘Those, therefore, who feel uncomfortable in being in the Congress, may come out, not in spirit of ill-will, but with the deliberate purpose of rendering more effective service.’ . . .
Gandhi not only asked his men to come out of the Congress but also took a drastic step to corner Bose so that there would be a major crisis.
He wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru on February 3, 1939: ‘After the election and the manner in which it was fought, I feel I shall serve my country by absenting myself from the Congress at the forthcoming session. Moreover my health is none too good. . . .’”
[Gandhi’s health was as effective a blackmailing tool as were his fasts . . . ! We have seen how he used it in Nariman’s case already. Bose realized that he was now up against the wall. He had a very good idea of the Mahatma's capacity for intrigue.]
"Bose tried to patch up the differences with Gandhi at Wardha on February 15, but it worsened the situation. . . . Bose could not attend the meeting of the Working Committee on February 22 which was called to discuss the agenda for the Tripuri Congress. It was unfortunate that Bose was taken ill on his return journey to Calcutta from Wardha.
He later wrote in an article in Modern Review, ‘My strange illness,’ which added to the suspicion about the mystery of his illness.
He requested the members of the Working Committee to postpone the meeting, which they construed as lack of confidence in the Working Committtee. So twelve of them, on the advice of Gandhi, resigned . . . Only Subhas Bose with his brother Sarat Chandra Bose remained as members of the Working Committee.
So the battle was joined to depose Bose.”
The field was now set for the downfall of Subhas Bose.
Read in tomorrow’s post how the final axe-chop was delivered on Subhas Bose . . .
Mahatma Gandhi Facts: Gandhi Revealed
 There was a strong and recurring whisper that Bose had been deliberately made ill in Wardha, to orchestrate the coup that followed.
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