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Subhas Chandra Bose's arrest in the Holwell movement agitation satyagraha and Congress's inaction

On 3nd July Congress Working Committee had an emergency meeting in Delhi regarding Congress's declared policy against the British Government. The Working Committee under Jawaharalal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad decided, by going against Gandhi's stated principle, that If British Government gave promise of complete independence, and help in establishing a National Government, the National Government would extend unconditional support to the war efforts of Britain. The Working Committee of Congress thus negated all the freedom movement, all atrocities of the British, all sacrifices of the revolutionaries and the satyagrahis, through this one statement, a statement that went against Gandhi's stated policy and a statement that showed clearly how eager these so called Congress leaders were to gain power. The Working Committee also resolved to take up the fight against the Fascists by the National Government in the event India is attacked. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan resigned in protest against this resolution. He made it quite clear that this was not in sync with the principle of Ahimsa he believed in. Gandhi also criticized this strongly, saying that Satyagraha was not only restricted against British, it was also equally "effective" against the external enemies. The resolution clearly confirmed that the Working Committee did not have enough confidence on the power of Satyagraha and therefore Gandhi was saddened.

However neither the Congress Committee leaders, nor Gandhi, spent even a single word condemning the arrest of Subhas Chandra Bose. Secretary of State Amery in British House of Commons claimed that Subhas Bose was arrested for his role to instigate the Holwell movement agitation. When Gandhiji was returning to Wardha, in the Nagpur Station a young man asked him point blank as to why did the Working Committee not discuss or condemn the arrest of Subhas Chandra Bose. Gandhiji off course had no answer. On 14th July in the Harijan magazine Gandhiji wrote, "I have no doubt that hundreds of thousands must have asked themselves the question that the young man put at Nagpur." But, Gandhiji added, "Subhas Babu did not defy the law with the permission of the Congress. He has frankly and courageously defied even the Working Committee." Gandhiji did not realize or intentionally missed that Subhas was arrested on 2nd July, and the movement was planned on 3rd July, so till then he had not defied any law. But Working Committee was not supposed to condemn any action against a great Nationalist leader if that leader had not taken the explicit permission of the Working Committee to launch an agitation against the British.

Did Bhagat Singh hurl a bomb in legislative assembly with the explicit permission of Working Committee? How did the Working Committee take up proposal on the incident?- Mr. Gandhi would not have any answer.

(adapted from Netaji Sango o Prasango, by Narendra Narayan Chakarabarty)

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