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Interview Pt 2 | 'Tried Secular Politics in BJP But...': Chandra Kumar Bose

In second part of the interview on 'Badi Badi Baatein', Chandra Kumar Bose talks BJP, PM Modi & divisive politics.

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

"What do we find today? Divisive politics, religion into politics, vote bank politics? Subhash Chandra Bose would have never tolerated this kind of politics. He wanted an inclusive, secular India," said Chandra Kumar Bose, West Bengal BJP leader and grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in a conversation on 'Badi Badi Baatein'.

In the second part of this interview, the BJP leader who never shies away from voicing opinions different than the party on several issues, narrates why he joined the saffron party, how divisive politics in harming India, the contrast in the ideologies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Netaji Bose, and how his granduncle would have been anguished seeing the situation in Manipur.

Click here to watch Part 1 of the interview.

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Speaking of Netaji’s values and Netaji’s ideology, as you mentioned. Where do you think we are politically when it comes to his ideology of a nation? Do you think this is the political state of India that he would have envisioned 75 years later.

See, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is the only leader to date, who could unite all communities as Bharatiyas. In his Indian National Army, there were 60,000 soldiers. Who were these 60,000 soldiers? There was not a single Hindu, not a single Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddist or Jain, they were Bharatiyas.

Netaji would have desired India to be an inclusive secular nation. Netaji was a very spiritual person. Netaji’s spiritual guru was Swami Vivekananda. Netaji was a Goddess Kali devotee but when it came to freedom fighting, when it came to nation building, when it came to politics, Netaji was the only leader who never mixed religion with politics.

What do we find today? Divisive politics, religion into politics, vote bank politics? Subhash Chandra Bose would have never tolerated this kind of politics. He wanted an inclusive, secular India.

There are certain changes that the RSS are trying to make, even a few months ago Mr Bhagwat was in West Bengal and you did question the values of the RSS at that point. Do you think that there is a change in the RSS from what it was during Netaji time and what it is today?

Mr Mohan Bhagwat is a very tall leader. I have also interacted with him. He is a pragmatist. He has realised that RSS ideology also should evolve. You see, all political parties must evolve. What attitude or ideology they had in the 1940s cannot really be practical in 21st century India.

So, Mohan Bhagwat ji has very clearly stated on 23 January this year on Netaji's birth anniversary that RSS believes in Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s inclusive ideology. We welcome this move if RSS or any organisation is willing to preach and practice Netaji’s inclusive and secular ideology.

What made you join the Bharatiya Janata Party?

Well, I was very impressed by the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi Ji because I interacted with him way back in 2013 when he had come to Kolkata as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. There was a meeting in Kolkata and I got an opportunity to have a talk with him. I was quite impressed with his pragmatism, shall I say.

I spoke about Netaji files that the Netaji files have been suppressed. We want to know what happened to Subas Chandra Bose after 18 August, 1945. This entire credit goes to the NDA government and Narendra Modi for taking steps in the right direction to declassify all the files and putting it in the National Archives website.

Do you think the values of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government align with what Netaji would have wanted the government of India to be?

See, I feel that Narendra Modi Ji is a very inclusive leader. However, he is heading a political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is one of the largest parties in the world. And as you know, all political parties have diverse opinions, have all types of people involved.

So, in order to have a focus, I think we need to do some work and we need to put in an extra effort to lead the nation. In 2014, Narendra Modi Ji showed the path of development. You know, he clearly said he had come on a development plank. He had come on an anti-corruption drive. And that is the reason why I got myself associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party and my terms were very clear. I had a very clear discussion, focused discussion with the honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also Amit Shah Ji who was heading the party as its president at that time, that my politics is entirely based on Subhas Chandra Bose's ideology which is inclusive secularism. I cannot digress.

I was given the green signal to join the BJP and practice Subhas Chandra Bose's inclusive secular ideology. I have tried it. I have not been very successful because see, it is not a single person who can actually implement that ideology. It is a joint effort. I got a lot of support from the Prime Minister, but I think the party as a whole needs to also come forward and preach Subhas Chandra Bose's inclusive ideology.

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Do you think the government is lacking somewhere in putting across this message of a secular India? Because we see a lot of incidents, we see a lot of communal flares under several state governments as well. Do you think there is a lack of political will somewhere when it comes to pushing an inclusive secular agenda by the government?

Yes, I think all political parties are to be blamed because this divide and rule policy we have learned from the British and I think we still practice it in certain parts of our country. Political battles may be won because of this division and dividing communities by vote bank politics. But I feel the political party may win. But India loses, the nation loses.

You are somebody who is seen and known to speak his mind. You have taken a different stand on the party on several issues like the CAA, the hijab ban and a lot of other issues. But do you think it harms you politically somewhere within the party circles?

Yes, I think in a political party you need to tow the line. But then, if my conscience doesn't permit, I am not able to tow the line, I speak my mind. My ideology is entirely based on Subhas Chandra Bose. He had great respect for Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru but that didn't deter him to oppose their policy and their views.

So, I have respect for Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and the leadership of BJP but that does not really prevent me from voicing my opinion.

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Most of this previous Parliament session was disrupted because of the issue of Manipur. Where do you think the central government or even the BJP government in Manipur has lacked or failed to control the situation?

Politics should be kept aside and both the government of Manipur, the central government and the opposition must unite and resolve this crisis. And it was the help that the Kukis and the Meiteis and the Nagas and the local tribals gave to the Indian National Army that they were able to defeat the British forces on Indian soil for the first time in April 1944.

They are freedom fighters. Their ancestors fought against the British, along with the Indian National Army. So, I think they should have been more sensitive in tackling the issue.

We should have stood both with the Kukis and Meiteis and made peace. I think we failed to do that. Again, this divisive politics came to play. I vehemently oppose this and I am sure Netaji Subash Chandra Bose would have been completely dismayed and anguished to see what is happening or what has happened in Manipur. I hope peace would prevail.

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