Two days after India celebrated Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary with Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling a giant hologram of his at Delhi’s India Gate, his daughter on Tuesday said it was heartening to see the freedom fighter’s values still inspiring people.
However, in a conversation with NDTV, Anita Bose Pfaff also expressed concern about the possibility of her father’s memory and legacy “hijacked for communal rivalry”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday unveiled a hologram of the iconic freedom fighter, fondly remembered as “Netaji”, at India Gate. The event was a prelude to the installation of a statue that would replace the hologram in the heart of the national capital.
“The role of our heroes, whose memories were being erased post-Independence… are now being revived,” PM Modi said in what appeared to be an attack on the successive Congress governments since Independence. The launch, however, was linked to the elections in five states next month by critics slamming the government.
The government had recently announced that Netaji’s birth anniversary – “Parakram Divas”- would mark the start of Republic Day celebrations instead of a day later.
Questioned if her father’s image is being used or it’s an honour amid the poll season, Anita Bose told NDTV, “I think it’s a combination of both. I have no doubts that the honour of the Prime Minister is no less than the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee – they are true admirers. On the other hand, they’re politicians and I don’t think it’s illegitimate for the politicians to convey this to their electorate.”
“What I would not approve of is that Netaji’s memory was hijacked for communal rivalry — That certainly would do to him an injustice,” she then underlined.
“The leaders of those times – despite their differences – worked for the independence of the country. Sardar Patel was an opponent to my father. But I have no problem offering honours to him,” she added.
75 years after Independence, Netaji is still remembered fondly, Ms Bose said, adding that “it’s inspiring that his values still motivate people. He had set a very good example with the INA (Indian National Army) that communal differences can be overcome.”
Speaking on the unfinished task of bringing back his ashes back to the country from Japan, “He deserves to return to his country… he could not do it when he was alive. I am sure he would have liked to return even though Japan had been quite hospitable to him. My son has told me – ‘I don’t want to inherit this’.”
Why is it a matter between the governments of two countries when she is the legal heir? “Possibly I am legally entitled to do this. But I think it’s a matter of courtesy towards the temple and towards Japan. They certainly would’ve liked the ashes to be returned,” she said replying to the question.
For Netaji, the nation was always before the family, and even his own life, her daughter said, sharing some anecdotes linked to her parents.
“My mother had a biased view of him. They were both very devoted to each other. As an adult, I realised that my mother had got a very rough deal. I would have understood if she would have been bitter against my father because she always played the second fiddle. It was always the country first. It was really amazing that she had this fierce loyalty.”
She was too young when her parents saw each other for the last time. “I was just two months old when he left for Europe for a submarine journey. He knew he may not see the end of the journey. But my parents never got back together again. “