PM Narendra Modi stakes claim to Netaji's legacy, flays Gandhi family

PM Narendra Modi unveils a plaque to mark the 75th anniversary of the Azad Hind government, headed by Subhas Chandra Bose, at Red Fort in New Delhi on Sunday | Photo: PTI
In a veiled attack on the Nehru-Gandhi clan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday alleged the contribution of several great leaders such as Sardar Patel, B R Ambedkar and Subhash Chandra Bose to the freedom struggle was “deliberately” forgotten to glorify “one family”.

He also said it is high time more Indians knew about the historic role these stalwarts played.

Donning the famous Azad Hind Fauj cap, the prime minister hoisted the national flag at the Red Fort and unveiled a plaque to mark the 75th anniversary of the proclamation of the Azad Hind government by Bose.

Traditionally, the prime minister unfurls the tricolour on the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day.

The plaque will be placed at barrack number three at the Red Fort where members of the Azad Hind Fauj faced trial. A museum will be also set up in the barrack. Modi lamented that post Independence, India’s policies were based on the British system as “things were seen through British glasses”.

“Policies, including those related to education, had to suffer because of this,” he said, adding that “Subhash babu always took pride in India’s history and our rich values. He taught us that not everything must be seen from a non-Indian prism.” He said in the later decades of independent India, “if the country had got the guidance of personalities like Subhash Babu, Sardar Patel, the conditions would vary greatly”.

Modi said that his government is changing that now.

“It is unfair that to glorify one family, the contribution of several other great leaders was deliberately forgotten. It is high time more Indians knew about the historic role of stalwarts Sardar Patel, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Netaji Subhas Bose,” he said.

The PM said while Bose focused on the East and Northeast India, the two regions did not get due recognition. Now, he said, his government is working to make the Northeast the “engine of growth”.

Hailing Bose’s spirit of nationalism, Modi said as a 16-year-old, he was pained at the plight of India under the British rule. “His ideology was nationalism... He lived by it. All over the world, people took inspiration from Netaji Subhas Bose in their fights against colonialism and inequality. We remain committed to fulfilling Netaji’s ideals and building an India he would be proud of,” he said.

Modi said India never eyes anyone else’s territory but will hit back with “double the force” if its sovereignty is ever challenged. He also said his government is working towards providing the armed forces with better technology and latest weapons even as efforts are underway to make the lives of soldiers easier by giving them better facilities. “We are heading towards building an army which was once envisioned by Netaji (Bose),” the PM said.

Modi said his government took decisions such as carrying out surgical strikes across the Line of Control and providing benefits of 'one rank, one pension' to ex-servicemen.

Reacting to the remarks, the Congress said the BJP-led Centre was making a “conspiratorial attempt” to appropriate the legacy of Bose and was “desperate to rewrite history”.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Congress rejected the “vitriolic and diabolical” design of the Modi government to defame national icons with the contempt it deserved.

“Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Sardar Patel were completely against the philosophy of sectarianism and bigotry that is espoused by Prime Minister Modi’s ideological patriarch — the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha,” Singhvi told the media, adding that while Bose had exhorted Indians to fight against the British, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar had exhorted the countrymen to join the British Indian Army.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel