Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s hardline approach towards the Independence movement and his admiration for undemocratic ideologies such as Stalinist Communism and Benito Mussolini’s Fascism distanced him away from moderate leaders of Indian National Congress. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were vary of the methods adopted by Bose to challenge the imperialist British rule in India. The distance between the two factions of Congress, ultimately compelled Bose to break apart and form the Forward Bloc in 1938.

Bose was associated with the Congress for 17 years. The relations between Gandhi and Bose turned hostile in 1938, but the seeds of discord between the two were laid since a decade back. In 1928, Bose was elected as the President of Indian National Congress. To mark his takeover of the political unit, Bose arranged a ceremony where over 2000 INC volunteers were made to wear military uniforms. Bose, himself, was dressed senior British military officer’s attire which he had procured from Calcutta-based reputed British clothing firm Harman’s. (ALSO READ: Subhash Chandra Bose: Patron of nationalism or admirer of fascism?)

During the INC session of 1928, he gave himself the title of ‘General Officer Commanding’ much to the displeasure of moderate wing of Congress. Expressing disgust against the activities of Bose, Gandhi had remarked that he is conducting “Bertram Mills Circus”.

By 1935, Bose had made it clear that he would opt for methods other than the ‘harmless’ ahimsa and satyagraha to achieve his goals. He began exploring the Western shores to determine the supporters for the Indian cause. One of his visits to ruthless Italian dictator and the strongest proponent of fascism Benito Mussolini had irked Gandhi to a greater extent.

Bose presented Mussolini with book ‘Indian Struggle’ (which was inspired to an extent by Hitler’s Mein Kampf or ‘My Struggle’) in which he described the synthesis of Communism and Fascism to prevail over India following the exodus of British. In the book, Bose wrote:

“In spite of the antithesis between Communism and Fascism, there are certain traits in common. Both Communism and Fascism believe in the supremacy of the State over the individual. Both denounce parliamentary democracy. Both believe in party rule. Both believe in the dictatorship of the party and in the ruthless suppression of all dissenting minorities. Both believe in a planned industrial reorganization of the country. These common traits will form the basis of the new synthesis. That synthesis is called … ‘Samyavadi’ — an Indian word, which means literally ‘the doctrine of synthesis or equality.’ It will be India’s task to work out this synthesis.”

Bose further opined that India would need a dictator who would rule this nation with iron fist for at least 20 years following the independence.

Thus, the radical ideological difference between the pacifists Nehru Gandhi and the radical Bose led to his breakaway from INC in 1938 to form Forward Bloc. While the latter was hell bent on exploring all options in a bid to free his motherland, the former were still firm that Her Majesty’s government would finally act in a just manner seeing the massive civil disobedience towards the colonial rule in the nation.