Narendra Modi, who is known for his high regard for Subhas Chandra Bose, promised the nation that his government would seriously consider the matter of declassification. But his office continues to reject the RTI requests for declassification in the background. Here is where the West Bengal chief minister demonstrated her superiority over the Indian prime minister. Even in her silence and passivity, Mamata Banerjee has been musing on the developments. Finally, she herself made it clear – that her government is one of transparency and therefore it would declassify all the 64 files in its possession. The Bose mystery has been a demon that possessed our old leaders and governments. It made them act somewhat stolidly, awkwardly, and at times shamelessly. It needs an exorcism by someone with great will and determination. Didi is ready to play her part, but is Modi ready to become a greater exorcist? Declassification is what a responsible leader should do to respect a war hero; actions that can win temporary plaudits like garlanding a Bose bust or saluting his photograph are of much less importance.
I finally received a reply from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to my RTI query about the secret files it holds about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. There are at two puzzling answers here. One, the government states that if the information comes out, it will affect India’s sovereignty and relations from friendly foreign states. Although the PMO gave me a list of 36 secret files, it still withheld information on an additional five files about Bose. Two, the Prime Minister does not have any authority in issuing an order for declassification of the said files.
January 23 – Desh Prem Diwas – the day on which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born. On this day last year, BJP leader Rajnath Singh took to Twitter to state that the people wanted to know how Netaji died and under what circumstances. He even challenged the UPA to declassify the secret files about Bose’s disappearance. 365 days later, it appears that the same Rajnath Singh who is India’s home minister now, has brazenly gulped down his own hot words with several glasses of cold water.
For ages, the Congess-led Indian government has been keeping an indifferent stand on the declassification of the secret files about the death of Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The BJP used this as a political tool against the Congress government during its campaign for the Indian general election earlier this year. The current home minister Rajnath Singh also claimed back then that the BJP government would declassify the files and end the secrecy surrounding Bose’s death.
During the last general election campaign, the BJP challenged the UPA to disclose all the secret files about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in public and national interest. Rajnath Singh tweeted this on 23-Jan-2014 and he spoke about it in Cuttack where he garlanded a Netaji statue. A few months after swearing in, the new BJP government rejected our RTI petition asking for the declassification of those files, for the same reasons its political adversary cited for dismissing such requests earlier. We were also told that the government does not see any public interest in this matter.