Two recently declassified Intelligence Bureau (IB) files have revealed that the Jawaharlal Nehru government spied on the kin of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose by Sunil Rajguru Any Nation which Willfully Forgets its History is Condemned to Repeat it. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is probably India’s most under-rated, misunderstood and sidelined freedom fighter. Now that the government of India is releasing secret files relating to Netaji, we can finally have a free and frank debate to find out his exact role in India’s Independence. For a start, here are six myths that relate to him: Myth 1: He was a Rival of Nehru Fact: He was actually a rival of Mahatma Gandhi whom he beat in 1938 and 1939. Most people see Netaji as a rival of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. That is incorrect. Nehru and Netaji were not in the same league. Nehru was the foremost disciple of Gandhi and Netaji was a rival of the latter. Gandhi led the freedom struggle till 1938. He was numero uno till that year. Then Netaji became Congress president and ushered in a new era. The Gandhi camp had lost and we were poised to enter a new phase in our freedom struggle. Gandhi is said to have been a saint and had he actually been so, he would have retired at that stage and passed the baton to Netaji. However, he played intense politics and continued to undermine Netaji. In the 1939 elections when Netaji was ill and indisposed, Gandhi hit below the belt and put up his candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya in his absence. Netaji supporters brought him on a stretcher and defeated Gandhi’s man. At least then Gandhi should have quit, but he refused point blank. That’s when Netaji decided to play the bigger man. He realised that if the top two fought, the British would get the upper hand. He made a huge sacrifice and quit. In fact, at that time, he proved to be the saint! Myth 2: He had a marginal role in India’s Independence Fact: He had probably the greatest role, even more than the Mahatma. Under Gandhi, both Purna Swaraj and Quit India got nowhere. The British did not see Gandhi as a threat and his non-violence did not make a dent on the Empire no matter what the popular narrative we have been taught. What turned the tide were the court trials of Netaji’s Indian National Army (INA). The infamous Bombay Mutiny of 1946 rattled the British. Indian Navy sailors fought against the British. Even though they lost, our enemy realised that they couldn’t continue to rule us. That was when the British decided to make a run for it. This has been accepted by Lord Louis Mountbatten, who oversaw the Partition. Mangal Pandey’s 1857 began our war of Independence and Netaji’s 1946 ended it. Myth 3: He should be condemned for joining hands with Hitler, and hence, was really a War Criminal Fact: At that time the British Empire was a greater evil and crueler. It is now an established fact that Hitler was one of the cruellest leaders of all time. But at that time the British, French and Spanish Empires were the most evil. Countless Indians suffered torture and death at the hands of the British Empire. When Netaji joined hands with the Japanese, allies of Hitler, nobody knew anything about Nazi concentration camps. In fact, most of the world refused to believe it even when the war ended and a minority disbelieves it to this very day. When Netaji joined the Japanese, the British had the bloodiest hands in the world. We shouldn’t forget this. Myth 4: The INA was just a rag-tag bunch of Soldiers Fact: It was a powerful professional group which could have gone far. The INA lasted for more than 4 years and boasted of more than 40,000 soldiers. They fought with great valour and dignity in World War 2 but happened to be on the losing side and were rubbished as history is always written by the victors. Had the British not granted India Independence, this army probably would have waged guerrilla warfare against the Empire! A lot of soldiers from the Indian defence forces would have definitely mutinied and crossed over to the INA. This proved decisive in our final victory. Myth 5: It doesn’t matter how he Died Fact: This is not an issue related to Congress or the past; he is the nation’s hero. There are a lot of people who say that we should let sleeping dogs lie and not rewrite history. This is propaganda. Nobody is rewriting history. Indian history was written wrongly in the first place. It is being merely corrected and not rewritten. Any nation which wilfully forgets its past is condemned to repeat it. We need to have a correct picture and a healthy debate and we need to view both sides of the history coin. Myth 6: We should leave Nehru alone Fact: If the foundation is rotten, then the whole building comes crashing down. Our history is built on the premise that Mahatma Gandhi won us Independence and Nehru built modern India. That is far from the truth. 1857 was the foundation for Independence and the very establishment of the Congress party is a key event. Leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak carried the flame forward and Netaji gave the knockout punch. After Independence, Sardar Vallabhai Patel unified India and secured Kashmir. Babasaheb Ambedkar laid the economic foundations and was the inspiration behind the Reserve Bank and Finance and Planning Commissions. Only C Rajagopalachari saw the fallacy in Nehru’s License Raj and knew it would collapse one day. All this has been minimized for the sake of maximising Nehru. There’s another important point. Congress president Sonia Gandhi stands on the shoulders of Rajiv Gandhi who stood on the shoulders of Indira who stood on the shoulders of Nehru. If it is found that Nehru knew Netaji was alive after 1945 and allowed him to die, then it makes Nehru the nation’s criminal. A multi-storeyed building would come down and it cannot be brushed under the carpet like a small pile of dust. We have to debate now whether Nehru actually built modern India or destroyed it. Meanwhile, let all the facts related to Netaji see the light.