The reports that government of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had carried out surveillance over the kin of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the iconic leader of the country's freedom struggle who had disappeared in 1945, has stoked a massive controversy. [Nehru-Gandhi family tried to erase Bose's name, says nephew]
The BJP and the Congress have blamed each other over the Bose episode. While the ruling BJP has sought a full-fledged investigation into the surveillance, the Congress has accused the BJP of trying to malign the Nehru-Gandhi family. [Netaji issue should not be politicised: Kiren Rijiju]
Is the Netaji episode being played out of an urge to strive for moral righteousness?
Is this episode truly a battle for moral righteousness? For in matters of statecraft, morality doesn't really count much. Or is this episode a deliberate effort to achieve some greater political goal? [IB shared Netaji's family details with Britain's M15: Report]
The BJP has hijacked Congress's non-Gandhi heroes to corner the Nehru-Gandhi family
The BJP, in the build up to the Lok Sabha election last year, executed a careful trick of hijacking national heroes from the Congress by projecting them as those who were not given the treatment they deserved by the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Apart from the Mahatma, the BJP saluted figures like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Narasimha Rao and others to show to the world that the Nehru-Gandhi family had indeed turned the Congress party into a family affair.
The initiative was to help the cause of Modi as an individual who rose through the ranks without any favour or background and the BJP as a party with a difference.
The latest controversy might kill two birds with one stone
Now, with the BJP in control at the Centre and the Congress literally facing a test of survival, the time had come to play the Subhash Chandra Bose card and kill two birds with one stone.
Targetting the Gandhi family's image to crush Sonia Gandhi's efforts for a revival as she had done in late 1990s
First, the Bose card was played at a time when the Congress is making a desperate attempt to turn around with help of its chief Sonia Gandhi. At a time when the party started facing a serious controversy over Rahul Gandhi's mysterious disappearance, the ageing president reached out to the people to boost the party's morale.
She has made her first contact with the farmers to oppose the Centre's land bill. She had made a similar effort in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government was in power at the Centre and made the Congress's turnaround possible within six years.
Is the BJP government cautious this time and wants to ensure that the Congress doesn't go the Phoenix's way?
A direct attack on the image of the Gandhi family will serve that purpose and the Bose sentiment will be the best weapon to carry out the attack before Sonia Gandhi does a substantial job in reviving the Congress's fortunes.
Netaji a trump card in Kolkata/Bengal polls and Mamata can't oppose the move
Second, with the crucial Kolkata civic poll this month and the assembly election scheduled next year, was it a perfect time to bring forth information on Netaji which is bound to fuel sentiments among the average Bengalis?
Anything positive related to Netaji assures success in Bengal and nobody will take the risk of opposing such initiative. So by being at the Centre, the BJP might have just played the trump card in a way that could transform sentiments into votes in Bengal where it is eyeing to topple Mamata Banerjee but is not exactly in a position to do so because of leadership and organisational challenges.
Activists and rights organisations recently moved the Calcutta High Court seeking declassification of secret documents related to Subhash Bose and by revealing the aspect of Nehru government's surveillance, the BJP could just overtake Mamata Banerjee in attracting the people's mood better ahead of the polls.
Had Bose's kin been under Nehru govt's surveillance, didn't Sardar Patel know it?
Had Nehru's government kept Bose's kin under the scanner, wasn't the No. 2 in Nehru's government between 1947 and 1950, Sardar Patel, aware about it? The BJP government should clarify the role of Patel in the surveillance episode as well, if it is treating it as a case of impropriety.
To conclude, what purpose will the declassification of files on Bose serve today apart from just fulfilling an academic interest?
Either reveal the entire mystery or stop using the iconic Netaji as a pawn in a greater political game
And if indeed it is going to unearth a portion of the country's history which is extremely crucial even today, then we must reveal everything as soon as it is possible and not float unrealistic theories like the act will affect relations with friendly countries (Japan and Russia?).
And if the government thinks it is not required to reveal things about Netaji after so many years, then there should be an apt handling of the sensitive issue. But let's not make Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose a pawn in a bigger game of politics.