Netaji and Oriya disposition

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

British was compelled to withdraw its military / police and compromise with the people in only one place in whole of India in its course of annexing the ancient soil; and, that place is Orissa.

Orissa was the last land in India to have been annexed by the British; but was the first land in India to have raised its sword against the invaders to expel them from the soil. British historian G. Toynbee has described it this way: “ It was not long, however, before we had to encounter a storm which burst with so sudden fury as to threaten our expulsion, if not from the whole of Orissa, at least from the territory of Khurda. This was the rebellion of Paiks, a kind of local militia, to whom the English conquest had brought little, but ruin and oppression” (O.H.R.J. Vol. 1 & 2).

This was, in fact, the first war of independence of India, even though it was limited to the State of Orissa. Nowhere else in India, by that time, such a war against the British was waged.

The British used its military and Police force to suppress this war, even though to its chroniclers, it was an “insurrection”. But the “insurrection” was beyond their ability to overcome.

Magistrate W. Forrester, who was in charge of Khurda, the citadel of Gajapati (KIng Emperor) of Orissa, informed this in his report to Commissioner Robert Ker on September 9, 1818 in the following words: “Since the breaking of the insurrection, very few of any consequence have ever been apprehended and it is to be feared that the nature of the country and disposition of the inhabitants will always present formidable obstacles to the suppression of these disturbances either by military or police”.

Netaji was born and brought up in Cuttack, where stands the Barabati Fort epitomizing Oriya disposition. Living in its environment the complete formative phase of life till the age of 17, he had imbibed this Oriya disposition, which had helped him fearlessly challenge Gandhi of conservative economic orientation whose anti-communist stance was paving way for the Indian rich to take over from the British oblivious of interests of the millions of India’s poor workers, marginal farmers, tribals, and the exploited lot kept “untouchable” and tortured subjects of around a thousand of kings and landlords, who, for emancipation, were daring British jails and sacrificing their lives, ensuring success of the freedom movement.

This disposition had made him declare socialism as the creed of India.

This disposition had made him fight and defeat Gandhiji’s conservative protege and planted candidate – Pattabhi Sitarammaya – in the unprecedented and incomparable election for the post of Congress President, whereupon Gandhiji had conceded that Pattabhi’s defeat was his own defeat.

This disposition had given him the strength to stay away from appointing his working committee, lest thereby his party’s resolution (even though stage-managed by the right-wing conspirers taking advantage of his bed-ridden condition) asking him to appoint the working committee members “on advice and approval of Gandhiji” was violated.

This disposition had shaped up his determination to resign rather than clinging to his Presidential position by constituting his cabinet – so that probity would not be compromised;

This disposition had made him establish Forward Bloc and subsequently to militarily challenge the British.

He had, all through his life, opposed capitalism, because the Oriya disposition he had imbibed in his formative days in the environment of the Barabati Fort had never left him.

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