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Ealing and Northfield

Netaji Sharma

My posting this week on our local MP’s “honouring” of wartime Axis leader Chandra Bose has set off a small debate. Tory blogger Iain Dale took up the story this morning, here.

I chose my words carefully and called Bose an Axis leader not being entirely sure of this particular bit of wartime history. He was indisputably an Axis leader and was treated as such by wartime Germany and Japan. If that was the only charge you could lay at Bose’s door it would be enough to condemn the hapless Sharma who is either ignorant or he arrogantly believes that no-one will find him out.

Iain Dale chose to use the phrase fascist leader and has been criticised for it, not least on the Pickled Politics blog here. Sunny Hundal asserts: “Bose was never a fascist, though he did want to work with the Japanese and/or Germans to get rid of the British.” This is a very bizarre statement, at least to a Western viewpoint. Was there ever a war where it was easier to choose which side you were on? Anyway Hundal seems to assert that because Bose was not a race supremacist he is OK. Hundal is just wrong.

I have read quite a lot of material on Bose this week. It is clear that Bose had bought into fascism before the war and saw it as a tool to govern post-independence India. It looks very much like Bose saw himself as a strong leader in the mould of Mussolini.

Various commenters have been trying to muddy the waters by invoking some unfortunate language used by Churchill and referring to the wartime alliance with Stalin. These are red herrings. Bose was an axis leader, he was a fascist and Sharma was a fool to “honour” him. Worse than that Sharma wants to have it both ways. Last Thursday he was “honouring” a fascist. The Wednesday before that he was “paying tribute” to WW2 veterans, see here. He has made a fool of the veterans who attended the evening along with Kevan Jones MP, the government Minister for Veterans.

I have chosen my side. I side with my Burma Star wearing father and his 2.5 million comrades in the Indian Army. It seems Sharma sides with Bose and his 40,000 INA men.

8 replies on “Netaji Sharma”

I think it’s time you got back to representing your Northfield Ward constituents instead of engaging in historic international politics.

However it was a fun thread while it lasted. Can’t think why you stopped it and then strarted a new one.

But, heh, who am I to tell you what to do?

Hi Eric,

Nice to hear from you. It is the silly season and this seems to be a suitable silly season story. A very silly Sharma story too.

Maybe people do want to hear about our ward walkabout last Wednesday? Three councillors, our SNT sergeant, our ward envirocrime officer, the streets monitoring team leader and the guy who monitors Northfield. We spent the morning checking some of the main roads and known hot spots – Airedale Road, South Ealing Road and Northfield Avenue. Would a list of calls made to the help desk make good reading? Maybe a blow-by-blow account of Ricky giving one of our cheekier shops a ticket for unlicensed street trading? I am not so sure.

Enjoy the summer.

Phil

You say – was there ever an easier war to take a side on?

Unfortunately this only betrays the narrow-mindedness infecting you and Iain. AT the time do you think Indians would be more worried about WW2 or their own independence? You’re deeply naive to think they would give a crap about what was happening in Europe than the fact they were being subjugated by the British at the time.

This isn’t a matter of historical record – though if you called Bose in India you’d either be laughed at or lynched – but about perspective. You may not be surprised to hear Indians hadd ifferent priorities at the time to the british.

Sunny,

Aren’t you the one with perspective problems? First, of all what about the 2.5 million Indians who fought in the Indian Army? This kind of mobilisation and the effective use of this massive army in combat operations must indicate a very high level of co-operation and assent. Second, I would not be quite so quick to write off the world view of many Indians in the run up to the WWII. As much as the British feared a Japanese invasion of India I can’t think that many Indians would have relished it either. It is always a mistake to think that people who lived in different times, or who came from different cultures, were not sophisticated. I think this is the mistake you are making with your comments.

I think you are minimising the considerable achievements of the Indian Army and talking up a self-aggrandising weirdo who paraded around at pre-war Congress meetings in a military uniform of his own design.

My problem is with a British MP recommending the thoughts of an Axis leader to young people in Britain today. What bit of his Mussolini-aping synthesis of socialism and fascism would you recommend to young people?

” First, of all what about the 2.5 million Indians who fought in the Indian Army”

What about them? We’re talking about what was happening in India at the time, not what the British were doing.

“This kind of mobilisation and the effective use of this massive army in combat operations must indicate a very high level of co-operation and assent”

Oh dear. Now you’re trying to tell me that Indians WANTED to be subjugated by the British and ruled by them. Oh man… I thought this kind of delusion was dead. But clearly some stupidity lives on.

“As much as the British feared a Japanese invasion of India I can’t think that many Indians would have relished it either. ”

True, and this vitriolic debate took place in India at the time – creating a split between the Gandhi crew and Bose. But that was a difference of opinion over strategy on how to get the British out.

I repeat – since you Tories seem to have trouble getting this around your heads – they were concerned primarily with getting the British out. It was the Indian Independence Movement that we’re talking about here, not the British Raj Continuation Movement.

The rest of your post is just drivel.

Many thousands of INA soldiers were recruited from the prisoners-of-war in Singapore who otherwise faced forced labour on poor rations, and as we know now death camps Its recorded that surrendering INA soldiers in Burma gave themselves up to British officers where they could because they were likely to be shot by Indian Army soldiers who must have despised them at the time.

The fact is that a British MP is praising the beliefs of a man in fascist uniform who fought against the British people within living memory. Nothing else matters. There is no excuse. The motives of Bose are irrelevant.

“this is a very bizarre statement, at least to a Western viewpoint. Was there ever a war where it was easier to choose which side you were on?”

Sorry Mr Taylor, but if Churchill associated with Stalin to take on Hitler et al, does that make him a communist? I’m going to assume would agree with me in saying that it most definitely does not. Going by that premise, how does Bose associating with the Japanese (for similar reasons to the British-Russian alliance, namely practical politics) make him a fascist? It is to my mind a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. A poor choice of friend but in desperation one often feels that one has little choice.

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