Appropriating Netaji: How deep is the political hypocrisy

The compulsion of electoral politics is such that those who swear by right wing Hindutva are today vying to appropriate the legacy of its biggest critic, Subhas Chandra Bose, ahead of the Assembly elections in West Bengal | Illustration - Immayabharathi K

On a muggy March day in 1940, a bunch of Hindu Mahasabha workers gathered in Calcutta to listen to Syama Prasad Mookerjee in the run-up to the Calcutta Corporation elections.

The workers’ morale was not particularly high since Subhas Chandra Bose’s supporters had been interrupting the Mahasabha’s meetings and allegedly beating up candidates.

Irked, Mookerjee decided to address that meeting himself. The air was filled with much excitement. But as soon as Mookerjee got up to speak, a stone hit him on his head, and he began to bleed profusely.

The above incident narrated by Mookerjee’s close associate Bal Raj Madhok in his book, Portrait of a Martyr: A biography of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, depicts the antagonism between the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh—which later metamorphosed into the Bharatiya Janata Party—and Bose.

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