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Subhas Chandra Bose's evaluation of Gandhi - Indian Struggle

In his Indian Struggle, Subhas Chandra Bose devoted one chapter (chapter 16) in analyzing the role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian History. He neatly summed up, "He (Mahatma) has failed because the strength of a leader depends not on the largeness — but on the character — of one's following. With a much smaller following, other leaders have been able to liberate their country — while the Mahatma with a much larger following has not. He has failed, because while he has understood the character of his own people — he has not understood the character of his opponents. The logic of the Mahatma is not the logic which appeals to John Bull. He has failed, because his policy of putting all his cards on the table will not do. We have to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's — and in a political fight, the art of diplomacy cannot be dispensed with. He has failed, because he has not made use of the international weapon. If we desire to win our freedom through nonviolence, diplomacy and international propaganda are essential. He has failed, because the false unity of interests that are inherently opposed is not a source of strength but a source of weakness in political warfare. The future of India rests exclusively with those radical and militant forces that will be able to undergo the sacrifice and suffering necessary for winning freedom. Last but not least, the Mahatma has failed, because he had to play a dual role in one person — the role of the leader of an enslaved people and that of a world-teacher, who has a new doctrine to preach. It is this duality which has made him at once the irreconcilable foe of the Englishman, according to Mr. Winston Churchill, and the best policeman of the Englishman according to Miss Ellen Wilkinson."

​Indeed, every action of Gandhi seemed to facilitate the British Government's continuation of the raj. He started Non Cooperation not as a protest against the massacre in Amritsar as per Amritsar Conference resolution, but as a sympathy to the cause of the Muslims and pan Islamism - of Britain's broken promise to Turkey and the Caliphate. He therefore emphasized more on the Khilafat movement and turned a blind eye to the Moplah atrocities on the Hindus in Malabar. He had openly supported the war efforts of the British Government in the first world war despite it going against the principles of Ahimsa. He took wind away from Tilak's Home Rule movement and dismissed the concerns raised by Tilak. Great Nationalist leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal stayed away from the Non Cooperation Movement/Khilafat. Deshbandhu Chittaranjan downplayed the Khilafat agitation and put his heart and soul on Non Cooperation. In fact he took the lead in Bengal, proved his superior ability by ensuring a total violence free hartal in Calcutta on the occasion of Prince of Wales's visit. Gandhiji's promised Swaraj within a year never came. Deshbandhu tried to enter into a deal with the Viceroy Reading who had agreed to some concessions. But Gandhiji dithered and the opportunity was gone. Deshbandhu was livid. When Deshbandhu advised in Gaya Congress to fight the Government by entering into the Legislative Council, Gandhiji and his followers were staunchly against it. But Gandhiji did not have any such objections ten years down the line in 1935 when Congress formed the Provincial Government. He followed Deshbandhu's advice but was ten years too late. Indeed he called off Non Cooperation when Khilafat had failed - Kemal Ataturk's rise in Turkey damaged all prospects of a Khilafat. The violence in Chauri Chaura was pale in comparison with the violence in Malabar in October 1921, but as we mentioned, Moplah barbarism did nor draw even a word of condemnation from Gandhiji, lest it angered the Ali brothers and the Muslims. Gandhiji refused to speak a word against the execution of Gopinath Saha and even strongly censured Deshbandhu's Calcutta Corporation's Act of expressing solidarity with Gopinath Saha, but the same Gandhiji had no qualms in expressing his sympathy with Bhagat Singh - because otherwise the entire Punjab would have been against Congress. He apparently even tried unsuccessfully to get the execution stopped. He failed but had no problem in carrying out the Gandhi Irwin Pact. No, the harsh treatment of the Kakori Conspiracy Case revolutionaries did not merit Gandhiji's solidarity. But the Congress was thankful when Lord Irwin was saved from the bid to derail his train. Gandhi supported Nehru proposal of Dominion Status in the Calcutta Congress of 1928, remaining deliberately vague on his demand from Swaraj, as to what Swaraj meant. He blackmailed the Congress delegates to defeat the Subhas Bose's resolution of Complete Independence. In forming the next Working Committee of Congress, he deliberately dropped Subhas Chandra Bose and Srinivas Iyengar, the two trusted lieutenants of Deshbandhu, as they were not aligned to him and nominated Jawaharlal Nehru as the President of Congress. Gandhiji waited for and wasted two years to get a response of British Labour Government. When none came and two definite years had been wasted, he gave a call for Purna Swaraj. When the revolutionary movement was picking up and the country was in the brink of turmoil, when labour movements and agitations, peasant agitations, mill worker agitations were posing serious threat to the British Government, Gandhiji launched the best course of action, Civil Disobedience Movement. When the movement reached its crescendo and the people had been roused like anything, the leader called off the movement to enter into a pact with the British - but got nothing substantial in return. The cunning British pulled Gandhi in a solitary engagement in the Round Table Conference where all his peace overtures were defeated by a deliberated, purposeful, show of disunity among the Indian representatives. Gandhi possibly understood that politically he was defeated and the Nation got nothing for the sacrifices it made. But he was too enamoured with his ideals to even change his course. Now he turned his attention to social reforms and caste problems - which was absolutely unnecessary. Just when India's problems were getting international attention, the caste problem was highlighted to be the most pressing issue in front of India and British atrocities and misrule were relegated to the background. Gandhiji was ready to wait until India became fit for Satyagraha. Indian freedom movement was put on a tight leash and Nationalist Indians were demoralized, disheartened and badly needed a leadership which neither Jawaharlal nor other leaders close to Gandhi were capable of providing. Congress had tasted power in the Provincial elections and ministries were formed in seven of the eleven provinces. They had given Assam on a platter to Muslim League and Bengal to a fundamentalist Muslim Government. Crony capitalists were crowding around Gandhiji and they wished for compromise and peace in the interest of their business. Opportunists like Nalini Ranjan Sarkar got Gandhiji's blessing. The true, selfless leader was exiled and there was none to bring succor to a Nation in need of moral courage and strength to fight the reign of terror of Lord Linlithgow, the new Viceroy after Irwin.

Gandhiji was roused again to action by the radio broadcast of Subhas Chandra Bose. He was inspired by the courage and resourcefulness of Subhas in escaping British India for continuing the struggle. He admired Subhas's determination. Therefore when Sir Stafford Cripps came with his proposal, he met a different Gandhi - a Gandhi who was far more determined for complete independence. Going against the wishes of Jawaharlal and most of the Gandhi coterie, Gandhiji rejected the proposals of Cripps and termed the Dominion Status offer as Post dated cheque on a failing bank. Just ten years back he had done everything possible to get that Dominion Status. What changed Gandhiji? Subhas Chandra Bose. This new Gandhiji continued his strong uncompromizing posture much to the chagrin of his followers when he made the reluctant CWC pass the Quit India Resolution in 1942.

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