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.