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You are here: Home > Netaji Home > India in World War II
By Sitanshu Das  
Bose resigns as Cong president
Last meeting with Gandhiji
Germany - USSR Pact, Aug 1939
Bose's Leave-India Mission
As Congress president during the 1938 party session of Haripura, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose spoke of the imminence of a war between the Great Power blocs of Europe, North America and Japan.

India, an enslaved country, he had warned, would be dragged into this war. India's resources, territory and man-power would be exploited by Britain, the imperial power governing India.

Britain had similarly exploited India's resources in the First World War of 1914-18. At the end of the First World War, Britain had given India no assurance of early constitutional progress to being a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire. Complete sovereign independence, or Purna Swaraj, for India was at that stage a distant goal which only a younger group of leaders of the freedom movement advocated.

Between 1919-1938, several campaigns for freedom had been waged in India. But all these had been brutally suppressed by the imperial British-Indian Government.

As the world situation hurtled towards another world war, as the then Congress president, Subhas Bose pleaded for a party policy which would demand immediate self-government for India if Indians were to give Britain willing help in the impending world crisis.

Whether or not the nationalist camp in India should give Britain unconditional help in another world war was an issue that dominated the pre-election campaign for and against Bose in the presidential poll of the Congress in 1939.

The war policy to be pursued by nationalist India thus became the central issue separating the Congress old guard from Bose.

Subhas Bose was re-elected the President of the Indian National Congress in 1939 after a keenly contested intra-organisation election. He defeated the candidate who enjoyed the support of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a majority of the Congress Working Committee.

As a re-elected Congress president, Bose pressed for a policy that would force Britain to take an explicit and immediate decision on India's demand for Swaraj. Citing how Egypt in 1920 had taken advantage of the British empire's military weakness in West Asia to regain self-government for Egypt, Bose urged the Congress to adopt a similar policy.

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