Subhas Chandra Bose - In Jail, Exiled in Europe, President of Haripura Congress
Gandhiji and Subhas Bose, a comparative evaluation by history, Subhas's travel to Europe, exile
An Evaluation of Mahatma Gandhi
Dr. R.C Majumdar in his History of Freedom Movement of India, vol. 3 has made the following observations about Subhas and Gandhiji. He observed that there were two categories of followers of Gandhiji in Congress, one "who willingly surrendered their conscience and judgment to the safe keeping of the political Guru", and the other "who fell a victim to the magic charm of Gandhi even though they fumed and fretted at his obsolete views and inexplicable or irrational dogmas repulsive to their own independent judgment." The second category included Jawaharlal Nehru. Dr. Majumdar said, "No wonder that lesser men looked upon Gandhi almost as a divine being, the truth of whose words and views must not be questioned on any account." He continues, "There is a popular notion, sustained by catching slogans, that Gandhi achieved India's freedom by the method of Satyagraha and thus laid down for the subject peoples all over the world a unique method for gaining independence without bloodshed. Of course, Gandhi's own statement leaves no doubt that Satyagraha had never any fair trial in India's struggle for freedom, and, as such, cannot claim any credit for it. But there were other deep-seated differences between Gandhi and his followers. He placed the cult of non violence above everything else—even above the independence of India." He goes on, "As a matter of fact Gandhi realized, late in life, that a wide gulf had always separated him from his followers though they all submitted to his authority. Gandhi realized at long last that slave-driving may be an agreeable pastime and a great source of strength to a leader, but it does not pay in the long run. For, like ordinary slaves, the slave-followers of Gandhi gradually turned against his leadership and revolted against his authority. It is not often realized by many that since the failure of the ‘Quit India’ movement Gandhi’s political influence waned more and more as the achievement of freedom approached nearer and nearer. That Gandhi played a very great role in rousing the political consciousness of the masses nobody can possibly deny. But it would be a travesty of truth to give him the sole credit for the freedom of India, and sheer nonsense to look upon Satyagraha (or Charka, according to some) as the unique weapon by which it was achieved." Dr. Majumdar is brutally honest when he says, "The two great ends of Gandhi’s life, to which even the freedom of India was a subordinate one, were to inculcate in the masses the spirit of non-violence and to bring about unity between the Hindus and Muslims by a change of heart. He failed miserably in both and realized it only too well at the fag end of his life. The cult of non-violence never took root in the hearts of the people." He goes on analyzing further, The failure to achieve the two great ideals of nonviolence and Hindu-Muslim unity led to the failure of Gandhi’s third ideal, namely, to maintain the political unity of India. As usual, Gandhi held fast to his ideal almost till the last, when his dream of a united India was rudely shattered by the action of his own followers."
R.C Majumdar almost eulogizes Subhas Bose in his comparison with Gandhi, uncharacteristic of any Historian of National prominence post independence who hijacked the narrative. He says, "Next to Gandhi, the most dominant figure in the struggle for India’s freedom was undoubtedly Subhas Chandra Bose. His unique personality shone forth when he, alone of all the leading figures in the inner circle of the Congress, kept himself unaffected by the magic charm of Mahatma Gandhi." He says, The fundamental difference between Gandhi and Subhas Bose is quite obvious. Gandhi’s ideal in life was the establishment of Satyagraha, and everything else was secondary ; even the freedom of India had no meaning or value to him in case it involved a sacrifice of this ideal. To Subhas Bose, on the other hand, the freedom of India was the only aim and object and no means was too mean for that purpose. Agreement between the two was, therefore, impossible. It is a sad commentary on contemporary politics that most of the Congress leaders at heart agreed with Bose in this respect, but sided with Gandhi."
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."
This distinction and comparison of the viewpoints between these two great leaders were necessary to set the perspectives on the next phase of Subhas's life, esp. his ascent to the throne of Congress presidency and his resign in the next Congress after a total non cooperation of Gandhiji and his followers. The objective of this exercise is not to demean Gandhi and show his contribution in a poor light, but to underline the fact that Gandhiji was a human being and not a Messiah, with all the associated failings of a human being. It is only the later historians and the politicians who have given him a cult status and all his shortcomings were deliberately erased from the history books to suit the narrative of a particular ideology.
Travel to Europe
Subhas's health in the prison had begun failing. It was never well since his incarceration in the Mandalay, but now they had turned for the worse. Subhas was transferred from Madras Penitentiary to the Bahwali Sanatorium in October 1932. A note of dissent Of Dr. B. C Roy against the majority recommendation, prevented the Government from releasing Subhas, despite his ill health. Lt. Col. Buckley, who had been treating him, had recommended his transfer to Europe for a treatment. After prolonged deliberation, the Government of India granted permission despite their unwillingness, but they laid a condition that he would have to leave for Europe straight after release from prison and won't be able to meet his relatives or friends. He was released in Bombay and was immediately packed off to a Europe bound vessel S.S Ganges, on 23rd February, 1933. He arrived in Vienna in March 1933 for the treatment of Tuberculosis. The British knew that Subhas was their most dangerous enemy. He would use the opportunity of a stay in Europe to promote and propagate the cause of India, esp. among the leaders of the nations that are inimical to Britain. Therefore the Government instructed all the British embassies and consulates to keep an active watch on Subhas's movements and activities. The details of how Subhas was denied meeting his aged parents by an insensitive and draconian Government are narrated in this blog post.
While Subhas was in Vienna, Gandhiji had entered into another fast. This time it was for three weeks and was primarily directed at untouchability eradication. His main grievance was that his followers were not giving sufficient importance to the problem of the Harijans or the so called depressed classes. The fast was given wide publicity across Europe (possibly British Government actively helped in publicizing) and once again India's internal differences hogged the limelight, thus raising doubts in the minds of the educated intellectuals of Europe whether India was ready for her independence and whether the British rule was more justified than a rule of the Indians. By then the Civil Disobedience movement had already petered out. Government decided to release Gandhi from prison as he was no longer a danger to them. The working President of Congress, Mr. Aney had suspended Civil Disobedience Movement as recommended by Gandhi. Gandhiji had requested the British to withdraw the ordinances and set free all political prisoners. Government was in no mood to oblige him.
In Vienna Subhas Chandra Bose got to see closely the functions of the local administrations. He got to know the social democrats who were ruling as well as the Fascists who were close to the Nazis of Germany. In Germany Adolf Hitler had consolidated his position and was all set to rule with an iron hand against the detractors. Subhas was attracted by the military discipline of the Fascists and the efficient functioning of the local administrations. He also developed friendship with the Mayor of Vienna Karl Sietz. At this time Vithalbhai Patel, ex Congress leader and elder brother of Sardar Patel was in Vienna for his treatment. Patel was one true leader, unlike his brother he was not a blind follower of Gandhi. After discussing together Patel and Bose decided that without taking foreign help India would not get liberation. They together worked on and issued a Manifesto which condemned Gandhi's decision and advocated for a more decisive leadership. According to Girija Mukherjee, biographer of Subhas and journalist, "both of them felt that the only effective way in which India’s freedom could be hastened was to make it an issue between nations so that Britain could be made to face the problem of having to seriously alter its foreign policy because of India. So convinced they were of the need of international contact that Vithalbhai Patel, who was suffering from serious ailments, left the money he possessed, in a Will, to Subhas Bose so that he might carry on anti-British campaign in foreign countries. There was much litigation about this Will in Bombay High Court (as Sardar Patel did not take it too kindly that his brother left his legacy to Subhas), but this fact revealed that at least two outstanding Congress leaders had come to the same conclusion and wanted to widen the sphere of activities of the Indian National Congress outside India’s borders. Subhas Bose, specially from his extensive reading in Italian history and literature, had come to the conclusion that like the Italian freedom leaders. Garibaldi and Mazzini, Indian leaders should also try to enlist support in quarters and in countries which were anti-British in order to make it uncomfortable for Britain in India and to force Britain to grant independence to India immediately."
Subhas had also nursed Patel senior when the latter was seriously ill and therefore Patel senior showed his gratitude in leaving behind his wealth amounting to Rs 100,000 to Subhas for the national work that he intended to carry out. However Sardar Patel contested that Will and seeing the possibility of a bitter dispute, Subhas voluntarily gave up his right on that legacy. This incident is a blot on Sardar Patel, which shows how blind hatred, jealousy and ideological differences can cause even greater human beings to stoop low. The details regarding the Will and how Subhas Chandra Bose was yet again insulted by the Congress leadership is given in the blog post The Will of Vithalbhai Patel. We would see more such instances from the Congress leaders. While in Europe Subhas also attended to the ailing Kamala Nehru, whose husband was still in prison in India. The manifesto of Bose and Patel did not produce the intended result as Gandhi was in the middle of a fast. However in the international arena it had its desired effect. According to Girija Mukherjee, "The Manifesto issued by Patel and Bose is indeed a landmark in the history of India’s freedom struggle. Until then, except Nehru’s participation at Congress of League Against Imperialism at Brussels, no important nationalist leader had taken the trouble to cultivate international opinion in India’s favour." After the Nagpur session of Congress, the small publicity office in London was closed down by the Congress party. There was therefore no further means to establish communication with the international leaders and get their sympathy for India's cause and to highlight the problems faced by India under the foreign yoke. Girija Mukherjee further states that, "Mahatma Gandhi maintained the view that other nations would take notice of India only when Indians themselves made the situation so difficult for the foreign rulers that the whole world could not but take notice of it. This guideline was adopted for a number of years and when Patel and Bose met in Vienna, they came to the conclusion that this policy did India no good. No one knew outside India how British treated the Indians. News agencies which operated in India were controlled by the British and, at that period, only occasionally some American journalists, who visited India, could report for a short period to their newspapers. Although because of the extensive reportage in the Herst newspapers by their correspondent Carl Von Wiegand, the problem of Indian freedom came to be known and discussed, there was hardly any understanding and appreciation of Indian point of view abroad. On the other hand, in order to counteract some effects of reporting in the Herst newspapers, the British engineered the visit of an American writer called Catherine Mayo who wrote a scurrilous book on India called Mother India which, it was proved later, was highly subsidised by the British Government in order to defame Indian leaders and the nationalist movement. All this went to show that without an effective organisation to counteract British propaganda against India in the world, Indian nationalists would not be able to make any headway because the indifference of the world outside India to the Indian cause was fully utilised by the British in delaying a discussion of the question of Indian independence." Vithalbhai Patel, like Bose, realized that the next stage of Nationalist Movement should also include a comprehensive programme for promoting and publicizing Indian struggle for freedom on the foreign countries.
We have already mentioned that Subhas Chandra Bose, who wrote Indian Struggle, had made a detail analysis of the role of Gandhiji and also narrated the true story of the freedom movement as experienced and narrated by a leader who was very closely associated with it. Therefore this book became very popular in Europe. for the first time the thinking people of Europe began to understand and appreciate the problems being faced by India, her challenges and her piteous conditions. Samuel Hoare, a conservative politician of Britain, made it illegal to promote Indian Struggle book in India, seeing its popularity in Europe. Bose also got good reception in the Balkan countries. While staying in Europe he tried his best to protest against the negative portrayals of India in various forums by the British and their colonial torch bearers who often presented a very distorted view of Indian, esp. Hindu societies, culture and people.
In the meanwhile Jawaharlal Nehru who was in Alipore prison was disillusioned with Gandhiji. Commenting on Jawaharlal, Subhas said in Indian Struggles, "With a popularity only second to that of Mahatma, with unbounded prestige among his countrymen, with a clear brain possessing the finest ideas, with an up-to-date knowledge of the modern world movements, that he should be found wanting in the essential qualities of the leadership, viz. the capacity to make decisions and face unpopularity if need be, was a great disappointment."
Bose came back briefly to India in 1934 but was a little late to see his dying father. Government only allowed him few weeks to stay in India for completing the rituals
While in Germany Bose started to pen his narrative called Indian Struggles, from 1920 to 1934 after entering into a contract with a publishing agency. Fraulein Emilie Schenkl was recommended by Dr. Mathur to work as a stenographer to type the manuscripts. The book was banned in India. Later Bose worked on a second volume (struggles until 1942). In this book he had assessed Gandhiji and Nehru's contribution. Image source: Jayasree facebook page
In Vienna, Bose met Vithalbhai Patel, a senior Congress leader who was the elder brother of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Vithalbhai and Bose issued a joint memorandum urging for continuing with Civil Disobedience. Subhas served Vithalbhai faithfully during the latter's illness. Vithalbhai left a large legacy with Subhas to continue with the freedom movement in a Will, which was later contested by Vallabhbhai who was against Subhas.
Subhas in Europe - The Foundations of a Future World Leader
In 1934 Bose came back to India for a short period on the receipt of a cable that his father was seriously ill. He could not see his father as Janakinath had died on the day before his arrival. This was a severe blow to Subhas. He had always regarded his father with utmost respect because of the moral discipline and exemplary life that he led. He was guilty of not being able to do enough and not fulfilling his father's aspirations and dreams about him. But he had made his father proud from all aspects. Janakinath, from being an admirer and participant in the British administration, had developed bitter hostilities against the Government and gave away his Raibahadur title in 1930 in protest against the Government injustices. Subhas was very dear to his father and brothers. Subhas could spend only a month with his grieving family, esp. his mother as he was interned under Government regulation. While in India Subhas discussed extensively the political situation. He noted in his Indian Struggles that, "Contrary to the expectations of the Viceroy, Lord Willingdon, the Congress Party had remarkable success at the polls (legislative assembly elections). It was clear that despite the repressive measures employed by Lord Willingdon's Government against the Congress Party from 1932 onwards, the vast majority of the people stood behind the Indian National Congress. It should be noted here that, unlike 1923-24, the parliamentary activity of the Congress was this time conducted by the Gandhi Wing." The president of Congress in 1935 was Babu Rajendraprasad, who was an orthodox follower of Gandhiji. The new constitution for India by the British which came into effect in 1937 was rejected by the people because it was aimed at maintaining British rule under the new political set up, with the help of Indian princes and pro British organizations. Congress Socialist Party emerged from the shadows to become more popular among youth and the radical section. Satyagraha, Civil Disobedience as well as the revolutionary activities had lost their appeal. The Communist Party of India, a small formation banned by British, had joined the platform of Congress Socialists to spread their ideals surreptitiously.
Subhas left for Europe in January 1935 for treatment of his failing health. Subhas Chandra Bose was initially allowed to visit Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland on medical grounds. He could get to travel to the Balkan countries of Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1933, along with Yugoslavia, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Originally he was not allowed to visit Germany or UK. But as a result of vigorous persuasion and support by few British MPs, he could visit Germany on medical grounds. He was not permitted to visit England. He was also allowed to visit Poland, Belgium and Holland, but he could not secure a visa for Russia. Even though Subhas had a leftist bend of mind he was not exactly enamoured by the Communist ideals. His initial thoughts were to curve out an ideal state by taking the good practices of both Fascism and Communism. Fascism acquired a negative contour only after WW2 and before that it was another political ideology, so there should not be any surprise. He of course saw through the hollowness of both the ideals when put to practise. Leftism to him was to be rooted in India's own heritage, culture and civilization and not some borrowed ideals from foreign soil. His Socialism was rooted in the Vedanta philosophy of Swami Vivekananda - of respecting and recognizing people and giving equal treatment on the basis of the inherent Divinity of Mankind.
In 1935 Pandit Nehru was released from prison to enable him to join his wife Kamala Nehru who was on her death bed in Europe. Subhas Chandra Bose helped Kamala Nehru to be brought to Badenweiler in Germany. Nehru stayed with his wife who passed away peacefully. Nehru also visited Paris and London from time to time and made important contacts there. In Italy and Germany he avoided making any contacts possibly because of his personal dislike for Fascism. During his stay in Europe he published his autobiography which became immensely popular with the liberal section in England. In 1936 Nehru became the president of the Indian National Congress and presided over the annual session in Lucknow. He was reelected President and had the full support of Gandhi and his coterie. He took a middle ground among Gandhian wing and Congress socialists.
Between 1933 and 1936 Subhas toured almost the whole of Europe except for Russia to study the conditions of post WW-1 Europe. He visited Italy and Germany several times and in Rome he was received cordially by Mussolini. To quote from Indian Struggles, "He (Subhas) studied, on the one hand, the growth of the new forces that were ultimately to challenge the old order that had been set up by the Treaty of Versailles — and on the other, he studied the League of Nations which symbolised that old order. He was specially interested in the changes that had been brought about by the Treaty of Versailles and, for that purpose, he made it a point to visit Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Balkans. Through travel and study, he was able, not only to understand the situation in Europe at the time, but also to have a glimpse of coming events. In many countries in Europe, he was able to rouse interest in India and to help in founding organisations for developing contact with India. The tour concluded with a visit to Ireland, where he met President De Valera and other Ministers of his Government, as well as the leaders of the republican movement." He also spent sometime in Geneva studying the League of Nations and exploring possibility of using the League for furthering the cause of freedom of India. This was also the aim of Vithalbhai Patel. Patel was interested in carrying out international propaganda to further the cause of Indian Nationalism and was responsible for founding the Indo-Irish League in Dublin. After Patel's death in a Swiss sanatorium in 1933, Subhas worked collaboratively with the International Committee on India that had its headquarters in Geneva and that was set up by Madame E. Horup, and also helped in publishing a monthly bulletin on India in three languages, French, German and English. Towards the end of his stay Subhas realized rather belatedly that the League of the Nation was fully controlled by the main powers, Britain and France and it was impossible to use the league for India's liberty. Thereafter he spearheaded an agitation that India was wasting money by remaining a member of the League which would not help her. In Czechoslovakia he met Dr. Benes, the foreign minister, studied the Czech Youth Movement and the history of the Czech Legion created outside that country during First World War with the help of England and Russia to fight for liberation against the Austrian occupation. He also met Prof. Lesney, the famous Czech Indologist. He visited Poland and learnt about the training of Polish Legion in Japan during WW-1 to free their country from Russian occupation. He had the sympathy and help from the Polish minister in Prague. All these knowledge and experience later helped in setting up the Indian Legion and the Azad Hind Government and army.
He visited Germany on grounds of medical examination but took the opportunity to meet some of the key Nazi leaders and officers of the foreign office to seek moral and material support for India. Before returning to India however Bose was thoroughly disillusioned with Hitler's Germany. He objected to some of the viewpoints of Hitler about India in his book Mein Kampf. He also said that, "I regret that I have to return to India with the conviction that the new Nationalism of Germany is not only narrow and selfish, but also arrogant." He met Mussolini in January 1935 and presented him a copy of his book, the Indian Struggle published in London in 1934. While staying in Rome, Subhas also met Amanulla, the king of Afghanistan, who was sympathetic to the cause of Indian independence. Subhas has unequivocally followed a principle which he had advocated for his countrymen from Geneva in 1934, "In the domain of our external policy, our own socio political views or predilections should not prejudice us against people or nations holding different views, whose sympathy we may nevertheless be able to acquire. This is a universal cardinal principle in external policy and it is because of this principle today in Europe a pact between Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy is not only a possibility but an accomplished feat. Therefore, in our external policy we should heartily respond to any sympathy for India which we may find in any part of the world." This was a worldview totally in contrast with that of Jawaharlal Nehru's, who only wanted popularity. Bose had one objective in mind - to play one imperialist force against another and thus weaken them considerably to achieve his own end. A great man had remarked much later, "In the matter of policy one should be able to combine Shakuni (who would pit one power against another by pretending to advise), Bhisma (the grand old man who would renounce his kingdom but fight for it selflessly) and Krishna (the divine incarnation who would decide the fate of humankind through superior policies and strategies, who would uphold righteousness or dharma against injustice or adharma). On 3rd April 1935 Bose met Romaine Rolland in Geneva. The meeting was positive and Romaine Rolland, who had great respect for Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, having authored books on their lives, had great expectations from India. Bose visited Yugoslavia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Ireland. he was impressed by the achievements of Kemal Ataturk in modernizing Turkey. He became great friends with de Valera, the president of Ireland and leader of Sinn Fein. While observing the weaknesses of Communism Subhas had opined that Communism as a model would not work in India primarily because it is Godless and India is spiritual in its core. But he was certain that Communism will have some impact on the modern socio economic development. About Nazis, Subhas admired their ability to plan, execute and work in a disciplined manner with a lightning speed. The blog posts given below talk about Subhas's activities in London, taken from the reminiscences of his nephew Amiya Nath Bose - 1) Meeting with Rajani Dutta and De Valera and 2) Meeting with Bertrand Russell.
The British Government and their spies in the meanwhile had been working full time to collect all information about Subhas, where he went, whom he met and so on. They had tried their best to portray him as a Communist in Fascist countries and as a Fascist in Socialist countries. Despite that Subhas received a warm welcome in all the countries of Europe. He also helped in organizing cultural centres in these countries for establishing ties with India.
Haripura Congress - Congress president Subhas Chandra Bose with Gandhiji and erstwhile president Jawaharlal Nehru. Image courtesy Jayasree Facebook page
Haripura Congress and the Congress presidentship
Subhas Bose standing alone and tall adorned with a medal- signs of time to come
Image courtesy: Jayasree Facebook page
Return to India: Haripura - President of Congress
In 1936 Subhas decided to respond to invitation of Nehru to take part in the Lucknow Congress. The British Government told him in uncertain terms that as soon as he landed in India he would be arrested. On 11 April he landed in Bombay amidst thousands of people who had gathered to welcome him. The British Government kept its words and arrested him and put him in the Arthur road prison in Bombay. His message to the masses was, "Keep the flag of freedom flying." British Government defended their stance in the face of a public outcry, that Bose had been intimately associated with the revolutionary movements, killing of public servants, and had advocated parallel Government in Lahore Congress. He was the inspiration behind the armoury raid in Chattagram and founded the Samyavadi Sanghata movement in 1932 that was rechristened as Hindustan Socialist Republican Army. He also had plans to win over the Indian army and police. In sort he had a definite belief in violent revolution and was therefore dangerous. He also had tremendous organizing capacity and intellect.
From Bombay, Subhas Bose was taken to Yeravada Central prison on 13 April, 1936. On 10 May a countrywide Hartal was observed to protest against his detention. On account of ill health he was released and put under house detention in Kurseong in his brother's house. Several British MPs had stood up for Subhas Bose like Mr. Kelly, Miss Wilkinson, Mr. Jagger, Mr. Williams, Mr. Sorensen. But British Government feared Bose. They could not set him free as they were afraid that he would organize revolutionary activities in no time. They regarded Bose as a "man of great ability, a genius", who could conjure situations that would be detrimental to the interests of the Government in India. Bose was released from his internment in a Calcutta hospital in March 1937 after the parliamentary elections were over under the new Constitution of India which was passed by British in 1935 separating Burma from India. In these elections Congress party had emerged victorious in seven out of eleven provinces.
All the political prisoners were set free, except those in Bengal and in Andamans. Soon the prisoners in Andamans started hunger strike and they were brought to the prisons of the mainland.
In December 1937 Bose went to Badgastein, the health resort in Austria again and from there to England as the ban on his entry was removed. In January 1938, while in England he learnt that he was unanimously elected as the President of the Congress. The British press gave wide coverage to his activities in England. He met members of the British parliament like Lord Halifax and Lord Zetland as well as eminent members of the Liberal and Labour parties sympathetic to India's cause like Mr. Attlee, Sir Stafford Cripps, Mr. Harold Laski, Lord Allen etc. During his stay in England Subhas Chandra Bose also met Rajani Palm Datta, the Communist leader. He said that Indian National Congress should be organized in broadest anti Imperialist term and should have two objectives of winning political freedom and establishing a socialist regime. He also said that when we wanted a synthesis of Fascism and Communism, Fascism had not started its Imperialist tendencies and he merely meant its aggressive Nationalistic ideals. Also as regards Communism he felt that initially it was perceived to be anti National but now he was fairly satisfied that communism supported national independence. This was not a very definite position, but Bose merely wanted to be politically correct and win friends for India. He had no other motive in praising Communism or in taking great pains to justify his own statements.
Bose returned to India in January 1938. The 51st session of Congress started in Haripura in Gujarat in 19 February. In his speech Bose referred to the problems and elaborated the policy to be adopted. In his own words in Indian Struggle, He "did his best to stiffen the opposition of the Congress Party to any compromise with Britain and this caused annoyance in Gandhian circles who were then looking forward to an understanding with the British Government." The Haripura session on the bank of the Tapti river was a grand affair. It was planned to be held in Vithalnagar, named after Vithalbhai Patel. 51 pillars were erected, 51 National Flags were flying. 51 bullock carts formed a convoy that brought Subhas Chandra Bose, the uncrowned king of India, for then the Congress presidents were looked upon in that way. The procession was led by Subhas's arch rival, Sardar Patel. Subhas reached on 12 February. Rajgopalachary, who was a die hard Gandhi loyalist and stood in opposition to Subhas, was conspicuous by his absence. On 14th February the Congress Working Committee met. On 16th February Jawaharlal, the outgoing president handed over the responsibilities to Subhas. On 19th February Subhas hoisted the National flag. In his illuminating speech Subhas referred to internal and external problems and outlined an approach that would be acceptable for all factions within Congress. He started by criticizing the British Imperialism and sounded a note of warning on British Divide and Rule. He predicted that British ingenuity would seek some other constitutional device for partitioning India, thereby neutralizing the transfer of power to Indian people. He pointed out the inherent weaknesses within the empire owing to the geopolitical complications and predicted its dismantling under pressure from within and without. On the question of minorities he said that Indians should follow a policy of live and let live. He correctly diagnosed the problems of India as poverty, illiteracy, diseases and outlined the policies of scientific production and distribution along socialist lines to be the panacea. He wanted a strong central Government with autonomy for the provinces along cultural and Governmental affairs. For the national language he proposed a mixture of Hindi and Urdu with Roman script. He also wanted to control the increase in population. He also outlined his vision for India's foreign policy, that it should not be influenced by the internal politics of any country or form of state. He cited in this matter the example of Soviet Russia. Also he wanted to promote Indian culture through the foreign press, art exhibitions and films. He also did not view the British people as enemy but pointed out that there was a growing and influential section who increasingly empathized with India's demand for independence. Subhas declared that, "Ours is a struggle not only against British Imperialism but against World Imperialism as well, of which the former is the keystone. we are therefore fighting not for the cause of India alone, but for humanity as well. India freed means humanity saved." Later in the year 1938 he launched the National Planning Committee for drawing up a comprehensive plan for industrialization and national development. He inducted his dedicated and loyal but deserving followers like Leela Roy as the members of the planning committee, as well as scientists like Dr. Meghnad Saha, and P.C Roy, and proposed Jawaharlal Nehru to be its Chairman. Bose also took initiative of sending a Medical Mission to China in July 1938. He was completely democratic in his approach and action. Even Pattabhi Sitaramayya, who was no Bose follower, remarked that Subhas was singularly free from any desire to take sides or parade his own ideas. Despite his illness, Subhas tried his best to propagate the ideals and his visions among people, particularly the youth, across India. On March 7, 1938 Bose appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.