Kolkata: Chandra Kumar Bose, the grandnephew of ‘Netaji’ Subhas Chandra Bose, has lashed out at the BJP, accusing it of being an insensitive election-winning machine, after the West Bengal unit of the party dropped him as one of its vice-presidents.
The Bengal BJP issued a new list of office-bearers Monday, bearing in mind next year’s crucial assembly elections in the state, in which it is hoping to topple Mamata Banerjee’s two-term Trinamool Congress and form its first government in the eastern state.
Bose had been vocal against the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by Narendra Modi’s government, and wrote multiple letters to the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah to offer citizenship to all persecuted communities from neighbouring countries, and not isolating Muslims to be kept out.
Speaking to ThePrint, Bose said he was dropped as an office-bearer for “going against the party line” on the CAA, but the BJP leadership said that he was politically “irrelevant” and “embarrassing the party routinely”. However, he remains a member of the party.
Bose said he was not consulted before being shunted out, nor was the decision communicated to him personally. He had attended a video conference with central leaders 10 days ago, after Cyclone Amphan struck Bengal, and said he received no indications that he would be dropped.
Opposing the CAA
On speaking out against the CAA, Bose said he would always prefer to have faith in his ideology than blindly following the party line.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a tall leader, but the party that has spread too much everywhere now, and has just become a machine to win elections and topple governments. They are not looking at issues sensitively,” he said.
“How can they segregate Muslims like this? What kind of politics is that? If the whole country erupted in protest, including all the universities, IIMs and IITs, there is something really wrong. It needs to be addressed. But it seems my suggestions did not go down well with the central leaders,” said the 59-year-old information technology entrepreneur.
Bose alleged that he received no response to his letters, which is when he chose to speak to the media about his opinions and also opened up on social media.
“My point was simple. I just requested the government to drop the names of religions and maintain that citizenship would be given to all persecuted communities. Anyway, not many Muslims from Pakistan would seek citizenship here. There was no need to identify and isolate one particular community,” Bose said.
“This is the same as Mamata Banerjee polarising people and practising vote-bank politics. Everyone does that, including the Congress. I joined the BJP to work on inclusive growth of people, and I made it clear to Modiji and Shahji.
BJP ideology is opposite to Netaji’s
Bose was pragmatic about why the BJP took him into its fold and made him its state vice-president.
“The BJP is just a platform for me. I never had any political background. Why did they induct me in the first place? It was not me they inducted; it was Netaji’s lineage. So, now, it is not an insult to me but to Netaji,” he said, but ruled out quitting the BJP immediately.
“It is the party’s decision, and I have accepted it. I will try to meet Modiji and Shahji. Modiji has done a lot for Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. But he also needs to understand that only building statues and naming institutes after him does not serve the purpose of paying tribute to his sacrifices,” Bose said.
“They need to follow his ideology too, and the BJP’s ideology is diametrically opposite to his. Just using Netaji’s name cannot win them elections, they need to address issues. Just badmouthing Mamata Banerjee will not earn them people’s faith, they need to highlight what good we have done for the people,” he added.
Family name doesn’t matter, nobody above the party
The state leadership of the BJP, meanwhile, seems to have no difference of opinion on dropping Bose as vice-president. And speaking to ThePrint, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said while he had taken note of Bose’s dissension, he insisted the decision was based on who could help the BJP win the 2021 elections.
“I know he had been making comments against the party and its decisions, but I do not want to say (that was the reason for his ouster). The party has given positions to those it needs for winning the 2021 assembly elections. There are many people who were shuffled. We will give them other important tasks according to requirements,” Ghosh said.
Asked about the optics of dropping a member of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s family, Ghosh stated: “Families do not matter to the BJP, work does. Family matters in the Congress; we do not believe in such things.”
A vice-president of the BJP who spoke anonymously added: “Chandra Bose was not adhering to party rules for long. At a time when Amit Shahji says that we will give our lives for the CAA, he was going on commenting against the legislation.”
The vice-president further added: “Nobody takes him seriously in the party. He never worked in the field. Following Netaji’s ideology does not mean wearing his uniform once in a year and chanting ‘Jai Hind’ slogans.
“Netaji never spoke of secularism; it was brought by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s. All these statements he is making, do not make sense. He has become politically irrelevant. Holding an important position, he had been routinely embarrassing the party. The BJP is a regimented party. Nobody is above the party here.”