CHENNAI: Governor RN Ravi created a flutter on Tuesday by calling the Indian independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi a non-event after 1942. Rather, it was the fire sparked by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose among Indian soldiers in the British army and navy that led to a revolt and caused the invaders to leave India in 1947, he said.
Ravi was speaking at an event held at Anna University to commemorate the 127th birth anniversary of Netaji. His remarks drew flak from the Congress and CPI.
Ravi also said the national freedom movement has not been given enough attention in Tamil Nadu, despite a large number of people from the state having sacrificed their lives with Netaji. "There are a large number of people from this land who gave their life for the freedom of the country and many did it along with Netaji. So, it is natural to expect we have Netaji chairs in our universities and much more. But the fact is that Netaji has not been adequately projected and understood," he said.
He also praised Netaji for being a visionary for commissioning a battalion of women even though it took seven decades for independent India to induct women in combat roles in the army. He added that Netaji's contribution didn't end with the disbanding of the Indian National Army. "When World War II began, the non-cooperation movement by the Indian National Congress fizzled out. We were fighting among ourselves as the Muslim League led by Mohamed Ali Jinnah wanted separation. There was no worthwhile resistance to British rule after 1942," said Ravi.
He claimed it was Netaji's army Azad Hind Sarkar (government in exile) led by an able commander that fought the British on the ground and defeated them in their strongholds. "This ignited a fire within all Indian soldiers in the British army and navy. Soldiers in the navy took control of warships and the whole royal navy was paralysed," he said. He added that this forced the British to leave India as they realised they weren't safe in India. He also urged intellectuals in Tamil Nadu to research more on Netaji.
Leaders of the Congress and CPI strongly denounced the Governor for his remarks downplaying Mahatma Gandhi's role in India's independence.
In a press statement, TNCC president KS Alagiri asserted that the Governor has consistently made false claims, undermining Tamil culture and displaying a hostile attitude towards Tamils. Alagiri expressed deep concern over Ravi's statement against Mahatma Gandhi, emphasising that such comments diminish the significance of Gandhi's contributions to the nation's struggle for independence and that the soul of freedom fighters wouldn't forgive him. He further said that the people of Tamil Nadu won't accept his words.
Similarly, CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan and Congress Assembly Floor Leader K Selvaperunthagai also voiced their condemnation of Governor RN Ravi's controversial statements on Mahatma Gandhi.