The Bose Republic


The recent violent event in Mathura has  outraged many people. But more than anger, there is bewilderment. It is difficult for people to accept that right in the heart of a town like Mathura, part of the mainland, there existed and flourished  a liberated zone. Liberated zones in our imagination are created only by Naxalites or Maoists in the jungles of Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand. And they are inspired by ‘alien’ ideologies like Marxism or Maoism. This makes it easy for us to label them as ‘anti-nationals, conspirators’ who are out to dismember our nation. They have ‘collaborators’ hiding in places like JNU, masquerading as students and teachers.

People and political parties are upset that a body, parallel to the one they form through the ‘legitimate’ process of elections, was running the show at Jawahar Bagh for more than two years. Some new reports have described it as a free nation. Government agencies are treating them as squatters who had illegally occupied a public property called Jawahar Bagh.

It is also metaphorical that a park named after Nehru was occupied by members of what is being called a ‘Bose Cult.’ The members of this cult believed that the Nehruvian Indian nation was a falsehood, which needed to be undone using the ideas of Subhash Chnadra Bose.  It is said that their leader, Ram Vriksh Yadav was also a follower of the ‘Jai Gurudev’ cult, a Baba of repute from yesteryears. He led nearly three thousand people, from different parts of Uttar Pradesh and other states to Mathura and camped at Jawahar Bagh. He distributed plots to the people on which they built houses, a school used to operate there, armed training was imparted to the young and old.

The ‘Bose-Gurudev nation’ had also its own economic structure. There was a police force and an army, which used to protect the ‘nation.’ For all practical purposes, this was the base camp from where they wanted to spread further. That there was support outside this fortress is evident from the fact that the ‘nation’ used to get regular supply of food grain and other necessities from places not only in UP but also Madhya Pradesh. For the inhabitants of Jawahar Bagh, the idea of this nation was so real and serious that they were ready to die for it. It was interesting to see that most of the media described  the clash between them and the Indian police as  a ‘battle’.

More than 29 people have died. Two senior police officers had to sacrifice their lives to assert the sovereignty of India over Jawahar Bagh. We are yet to see them decorated as martyrs. Jawans of our armed forces are immediately called martyrs when they die in Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand or Jammu and Kashmir. It would be too much to confer martyrdom on the functionaries of the state who are merely engaged in the eviction of illegal squatters.

The whole incident, had it not been so bloody, looks amusing. There is a something quixotic about it. The foolhardiness or audacity of the ‘citizens’ of this ‘Bose-Gurudev’ nation beats one’s imagination. Did they seriously believe that they could survive the might of the Indian state?

Hypothetically speaking, if the idea of the ‘Bose-Gurudev’ nationhood could capture the imagination of three thousand people, what prevents it from bringing three lakh or three million people under its spell?  We need to ask this question to understand how notions of belongingness are fashioned,  which  later evolve into the idea of nation and nationalism.

We must therefore ask ourselves, what is it that upsets us in the whole episode? Is it the bloodshed? Or, is it the fact of illegal occupation of public land? Was not it not done recently  in the capital of India, on the bed of the Yamuna, against the orders of an institution, which sought to assert the sovereignty of the nation against a Godman quite similar to Jai Gurudev? Does the profile of his followers have something to do with the shyness of the organs of the Indian state in prosecuting the Godman,  who openly challenged the might of the state by declaring that even after being declared illegal, he would carry on with his proposed event? Even the police and the army were employed to facilitate his illegal actions, while the Prime Minister of the country actively blessed the illegality.

We also read and again with outrage that the SP government was toying with the idea of giving the park to the cult on lease for 99 years. Why should it go against the UP government when we have precedents like granting of acres of land in the ecologically sensitive and protected ridge of Delhi to Asaram Bapu by a BJP-led government on the orders of the then home minister LK Advani or more recently to  Baba Ramdev by the BJP government in Chhattisgarh? What makes Sri Sri or Asaram or Ramdev more deserving than Ram Vriksh Yadav? What public good do these worthies serve which Ram Vriksh was incapable of doing?

Be it the three-day event at Yamuna or the Ashrams of these Gurus, it is not the will of the Indian state which is supreme there. It is their own security, the private armies of these Gurus, which are in command.

It cannot be that we did not like the name of a person like Bose been turned into a stupid cult. For, this is what we have witnessed in these last seven decades. A cult around Bose, the myth of  his immortality has been cultivated very carefully to compete with and delegitimize the idea of a Nehruvian India. It is a militarist notion of a nation, which has been propagated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its associates, The BJP being part of them. We have seen that It is quite possible to mobilise masses around this militant idea.

We find the idea of people following a half-educated man like Ram Vriksh Yadav very funny. Has it occurred to us that we have willingly elected  an organisation as our ruler which believes that the first organ transplant was done by God Shiva and we had  a fully developed science of aeronautics in the times of Lord Ram?

The fact of armed training at Jawahar Bagh is also being seen as unacceptable. We witness and many of us participate in the armed training camps run by the RSS and its allies. We are not only not offended by that but find the whole act patriotic. We conveniently ignore the fact that along with arms these people are also being trained into an idea of a nation which seeks to replace, if not overthrow the current idea of India, as enshrined in its Constitution.

There may be people willing to be fooled by ‘The-Constitution-as-my-Sacred-Book’  proclamation of their leader but his  following fervently believes that  a true nation is only one which has complete Hindu supremacy. The recent interview of a former ABVP national leader reveals this, when he makes a call to convert the present BJP dominated Lok Sabha into a new constituent assembly which would  draft the ‘real and true constitution’ for the India they want to have.

In the aftermath of the bloodshed at Jawahar Bagh of Mathura, we need to remember that Ram Vriksh Yadav may be dead and his ‘nation’ vanquished but the ‘Gurudev-Bose’ notion of Indian nationhood is very much alive in many other forms and with our active participation in promoting it.

( A slightly edited version has appeared in The Tribune on 9 June, 2016)




6 thoughts on “The Bose Republic”

  1. Very pithily written.

    I have a feeling that majority of us do not have a real trust in the government or its functionaries. This is reflected in common wisdom of staying away from police and courts , two main pillars of any lawful society.

    Further , a widespread joblessness and poverty coupled with inefficiency and corruption in governmental corridors and worst kind of political bickering at the top level ( in poor society where political leaders were supposed to lead the social norms ) has led to a kind of cynicism which makes us accept any event as just another one.

    Mathura should have shocked us, and shocked us to the core. But it didn’t. We have really come to accept that these things happen and will continue to happen. Our expectations from the state is not much. We sometime do react emotionally to advertisements through TV debates, but that’s it.

    We are no longer a nation , concerned and ready to defend our constitution.


    1. I agree, but if we accept that we are a numbed society, how do we come to terms with the idea that we are also hypersensitive on other issues? There is something skewed here. I think the responsibility of all this lies with the information explosion actually. No longer authenticated news or data, but sheer voluminous data that has no father or mother. So anyone can have an agenda and pass on nonsense to the people and the myths/lies/frauds will just propagate a certain type of “truth”. I am not saying that the internet or telecom or satellite TV ruined us all, but it certainly contributed to the demise of sane thinking. Notice how we have become even more superstitious than ever before in spite of claiming to be more educated and literate than in the past? I guess we grew up too fast…


      1. You have captured it correctly that there is something skewed here. I believe the reason for it is that our political grooming as a nation has not been proper.

        Britishers have nurtured a political system suited to them to control the Indian subcontinent as their property. Whatever contributed to the concept of India out of it was by default. Police and Courts were two main instruments for British in this design .

        Once independence came , and a beautiful constitution was made,the natural corollary was there would be systemic changes in this policing and judicial system too. But this didn’t happen. The ruling dispensation immediately saw that the continuation of old feudal police and judicial system was the best way to enjoy the fruits of power. The concept of ‘we’ vs ‘they’ was continued. ( ‘lal batti’ culture is a manifestation of the same ).

        Also, in a poor country like ours, political leaders with the help of the constitution were supposed to be the beacon of social awakening. But, regretfully, most of our political leaders , with the great deal of mistrust among themselves , focussed on aggrandizing themselves and their party. Political parties rewarded such political fixers. With the passage of time the political system has become a sophisticated game of power and power alone. It has come to such a pass that there doesn’t seem to be any way out. Delhi experiment , which at one point of time appeared to be showing some promise, turned out to be another old dud.

        My only hope is that Internet and TV which has increased people’s aspirations , somehow finds a way to put pressure on elected governments. Once economical conditions improve and some surplus is generated , civic values , as an important variable in the sustenance of economy, may become visibly important to people and and thus become a factor in electoral dynamics too. (like availability of electricity is gradually becoming a factor, albeit a small one, in elections in some middle income states). Then , political parties will be forced to factor in the improvement in social systems and consciousness. Political parties , like it or not, are very important for leading our civic values too.


  2. There are reports of RSS/ VHP fanatics conducting classes for young innocents on arms usage in fighting ‘ Muslim terrorists’ (Vinod Dua live, news World India, June4) . This indicates that Hindu fanatics are more violent than Maoists or Naxalites. Maoists and adivasis use ‘ counter-violence’ to thwart the government aided corporates plundering natural resources while the Hindu fanatics use ‘violence’ to fuel communal clashes. Though Muslim fanatics do not lag behind, that is no excuse for Hindu fanatics training in arms and guns as they canvass Hindu religion as peace loving philosophy.


  3. “It cannot be that we did not like the name of a person like Bose been turned into a stupid cult. For, this is what we have witnessed in these last seven decades. A cult around Bose, the myth of his immortality has been cultivated very carefully to compete with and delegitimize the idea of a Nehruvian India.”
    True, but let us not confine Bose to being “militaristic” , and thereby let the saffron disinformers walk away with the ball. Just as we cant let the parivaar get away with appropriating Babasaheb, we cant let these people get away with appropriating Bose either.. A lot of Bose’s and INA’s history connects with very important and signal events in Indian freedom Struggle. INA had a 40% Muslim composition. Bose named a regiment after Nehru, though he had felt Nehru did not stand by him in his conflict with Gandhi post-Tripuri session. Bose was always at loggerheads with Sardar Patel, and from his present home in the sky can only look askance at the proposed mega-statue of Patel , which presumably, when built by staunch Hindutva types would also be visible from Heaven. In fact, even more than his brother , Sarat, Subash had a supreme generosity of spirit. (The thought, in any case, would never have crossed Bose’s mind to name a regiment after Patel). So what are these Patel-worshipping fake Bose-admirers talking about? Even on Patel, the left need not buy into foregrounding the Nehru-Patel differences. Patel, himself said that the talk of Nehru-Patel differences is part of attempts to divide he Congress.
    Left also need not fall into the trap of castigating Tilak as a leader because of the undoubtedly racist observations contained in Tilak’s ” Arctic Home of Vedic Aryans”. Or for his support to the British in WW1. That support was a tactic he thought valid, and of course, the racist observation has to be criticised. Counsel for Tilak was Jinnah in 1908 (for bail) and in 1916 (in the main sedition case, when Jinnah won release for Tilak) . Even on Savarkar, let us acknowledge his bravery in 1911 and his being sentenced to Andamans, even while we point out his fall from grace in pleading with the British and getting release on an undertaking, a course of action which others including Motilal had refused. Even Shyamaprasad Mukherjee played a decent role sometimes. In 1943, when Congress leadership was in jail, the Bengal famine was on, famine was not declared, no money was allowed to be raised for famine victims in the rest of India, Shyamaprasad and Fazlul Haque, ex-premier of Bengal and Krishak Praja Party leader, both jointly addressed a public meeting in Howrah, where the meeting passed a resolution demanding a system of rationing for the whole of Bengal. (No such system was there, rations were given for “essential war effort”-related people, rations were given to companies (!) , and Marwaris like G D Birla cooperated whole-heartedly in this. Meanwhile, Indian ships, seized by the British at the start of WW2, were used to carry wheat from Argentina to England to build up a stockpile of 18 million tons there. And, indeed there was a system of rationing to cover the entire population of UK. ) . Facts have come to light in recent books, and we need to hold the Brits accountable for all this and also for Muslim separatism which would also incidentally , put the responsibility where it lies rather than with Islam or with Global Muslim Community.


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