A purported letter by Jawaharlal Nehru referring to Subhas Chandra Bose as a “war criminal” and addressed to former England Prime Minister Clement Attlee has triggered a fresh controversy with the Congress calling it “mischievous and fake”.
The party also threatened to “expose and take action” against people behind this letter, which has been in circulation on social media for several years and thrust into the spotlight on Saturday once again after the BJP-led NDA government declassified 100 files on Netaji.
The controversial letter -- dated December 26, 1945 -- was not among the files declassified by the government to mark the 119th birth anniversary of the founder of the Indian National Army (INA) which waged an armed struggle against the British.
However, one of the declassified files shows that the external affairs ministry had confirmed in 2001 from the British foreign office and defence ministry that “Netaji’s name is not in the list of war criminals drawn up by the UK after World War II”.
“It’s a deliberately created controversy to mislead people and try to belittle the great achievements of (two) stalwarts of the Indian freedom struggle,” Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said.
In the purported letter Nehru wrote, “Dear Mr Attlee, I understand from reliable sources that Subhas Chandra Bose, your war criminal, has been allowed to enter Russian territory by Stalin. This is a clear treachery and betrayal of faith by the Russians as Russia has been an ally of the British-Americans, which she should not have done. Please take note of it and do what you consider proper and fit.” The unsigned letter ends with, “Yours Sincerely, Jawaharlal Nehru.”
Netaji is said to have died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945, four months before the purported letter was written and two years before Nehru became India’s first Prime Minister.
“It’s shameful when an attempt is made to besmirch the image of India’s great leader, a Mahanayak of freedom movement, (the) first Prime Minister, a world statesman,” Sharma added.
The Congress also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “deliberately creating” this controversy to divert attention from the “failures” of his government.
“The way PM has carried this out raises doubts about the intentions of the Modi government. Nation needs to understand this,” Sharma added. “It’s extremely unfortunate that the PM is doing all this to deflect attention from his miserable failure on all fronts.”
The Congress also hit out at the BJP for “maligning” its leaders, saying the saffron party, “their mother organisation and affiliate organisations” cannot claim any leader who was at the forefront of the freedom struggle.
The party said it would take all measures to “identify” and “punish” the people behind it.
“Whoever is taking ownership must come forward. For Congress, Netaji was a great nationalist leader. He participated in freedom struggle and we respect his contribution to freedom struggle,” Sharma said.