of mission was not in doubt. Subsequently he resigned from the ICS as he did
not want to wear “the emblem of servitude”.
Role as Congressman
Subhas’ acceptance of Chittaranjan Das as his political guru during the non-
cooperation and Khilafat movements was a surrender to a man similarly
dedicated to the cause of India’s freedom, based on Hindu-Muslim unity. His
exile in Burmese prisons witnessed the transformation of a lieutenant to a
leader. A leader, along with Jawaharlal Nehru, of the left-leaning younder
generation of anti-colonial nationalists. Between his numerous spells in
prison he played a major role in the student, youth and labour movements.
India, he believed, should become “an independent federal republic”. He
warned Indian nationalists not to become “a queer mixture of political
democrats and social conservatives”.
His demand at the Calcutta Congress of 1928, that “complete
independence”, instead of “dominion status”, should be the goal of Indian
nationalists, was a sign that he was a step ahead of his contemporaries. He
repeatedly spoke on behalf of the rights of three large communities—women,
depressed classes and the labouring masses.
When the Civil Disobedience Movement was launched, Subhas was in
prison. He was elected mayor of Calcutta, while in jail, in 1932. It was at the
Karachi Congress and the second session of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in
the previous year that he spoke of the need for a new Indian variant of
socialism. Eventually in February 1933 he was released after being put on a
ship setting sail for Europe. The greater part of his enforced exile was spent
as an unofficial ambassador of India’s freedom. This was the period which
saw the transformation of a leader into a statesman. Despite being in poor
health Subhas travelled tirelessly, spreading India’s message almost all across
Europe and north Africa.
Back home as president of the Indian National Congress, Subhas
provided an incisive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the
worldwide structure of British imperialism and an egalitarian vision of the
socio-economic reconstruction of free India.
Towards the end of his first term as president his rift with the Gandhian