Bhubaneswar: Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose were great patriots and great leaders of India. Both opted for different means to achieve freedom; Gandhiji believed in non-violence, whereas Netaji strived to achieve independence through armed struggle, said historian Sugata Bose at one of the sessions of Tata Steel Bhubaneswar Literary Meet, which is underway in Odisha capital.
“We often speak about rivalry between them. The relationship between Gandhiji and Netaji was based on mutual affection and respect. They had a serious difference in opinion during the election to the Indian National Congress president’s post in 1939, but again came closer in their aims and ideology from 1942 onwards. Netaji was the first to call Gandhiji the Father of our Nation. Gandhiji regarded Netaji’s patriotism to be second to none,” he said.
In 1947, India attained freedom, but the country had to go through the pangs of partition. “Had Netaji been alive then, he would have been a strength to Gandhiji during that phase. I certainly believe that if Netaji were present in the post-Independence scene, the Pakistan problem might have been avoided. He probably would have worked very strongly to prevent the Partition of India in the first place and may be an alliance of Gandhi and Bose could have made a difference. Gandhi was not in favour of Partition but he was left alone by all the people around in 1947,” said Bose.
During the conversation with educationist and writer Jatindra Nayak at the Xavier Institute of Management here, the noted historian said that he was delighted to be back in Odisha since his grandfather Sarat Chandra Bose and grand uncle Netaji Subash Chandra Bose were born here. “I consider myself as half Odia and it feels home to be in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Puri,”
Nayak, earlier introduced him as someone who had a soft corner for students. “He has even dedicated his book, The Nation as Mother, to the students,” he said.
Taking the discussion further, Bose said Gandhi would not have mind a critical appreciation of his legacy. “The Mahatma changed with time. He went through a constant process of evolution. He learnt from his rebellious son Subash Chandra Bose, the value of cultural intimacy among India’s different religious communities and linguistic groups,” he said.
Bose also informed the gathering that it was Netaji, who had first expressed concern over population explosion in India. “He was not only a freedom fighter, but also tried to bring about revolution in the society,” he added.