Hard News, June 2006
Netaji, alive or dead, will remain part of the galaxy of great patriots, whereas Nagpur HQ that tried to make fun of him will ultimately find itself in the dustbin of history.
Lala Shanker Lal, a revolutionary and closest friend of Subhash Chandra Bose, is a living legend to the events that shook the nation in the pre-Independence era.
Lalaji is even now reluctant and evasive to talk about the time past, although he organised and financed Netaji’s movements both inside and outside India..
Living in a politically surcharged environment created by talk of the Nehru-Patel rift, post-Gandhi assassination pall of gloom, communal mayhem, fear, suspicion, Lalaji, it was clear to all of us, did not like to broach the topic of the final phase of Subhash Babu’s life.
But one evening he suddenly opened up and narrated an episode with an advice: “You can draw your inferences.”
Subhash Babu’s faction in the Congress, which assumed the name of Forward Bloc, was holding its meeting in Calcutta during the AICC session in 1933. As all radicals were engaged in serious discussion, the main door suddenly opened and entered a tall impressive figure, white flowing beard covering the wrinkles on the face with eye-brows that was snow-white.
“Subhash immediately got up , rushed up to the visitor, laid prostrate at his feet. The old man took him by his arms and moved out of the room. After few minutes, Subhash came back alone and occupied his seat. The visitor’s personality was so awe inspiring that we remained dumbfounded for sometime. Later someone broke the silence and asked about the identity of the phantom like old man.
“He is Nana Shaib Peshwa”, Subhash spoke almost in whispers. “There was again a silence”, Lalaji told me. Subhash always had been a great devotee of not only revolutionaries and freedom fighters but was also enchanted by mystic figures and characters from mythology Lalaji said.
Nanaji from Bithoor, near Kanpur, had led his forces against the British forces during the epic 1857 revolt.
With the collapse of First War of Independence, Nanaji, Lucknow’s Begum Hazrat Mahal and others managed to slip away to Nepal. When did Nanaji die, nobody is sure.
Netaji was spiritually inclined and in his teens had escaped from his home and moved to Himalayan foothills. In Nanaji, he saw an angel from the other world.
This story flashed through my mind while reading Justice Mukherjee Commission’s conclusion about Netaji’s death and the reaction of RSS-bred BJP’s spokesman V.K. Malhotra to it.
Posing as a great admirer of Netaji, Malhotra said he was highly dissatisfied with Justice Mukherjee’s report. It virtually reminded me of the treatment accorded to Netaji at the Nagpur-based RSS headquarters. According to a monumental work on the organization, Prof. D. R. Goyal discloses in his book “Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh” that breaking his journey on his way to Bombay from Calcutta, Subhash Bose went to RSS HQ to meet the chief K.S. Hegdewar. Before Bose could enter RSS chief’s room, he was told that Doctorji was unwell and was not able to meet anybody. Subhash Babu turned back and left.
The Adi Purush (!) of the RSS and his cronies burst into laughter, patting each other for successfully enacting a farcical drama, which Nagpur managers had in due course developed into an art par excellence. Double talk, double dealings, double crossing….