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
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.