It may seem strange at first that the issue of declassification of the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose files has anything whatsoever to do with Tamil Nadu.
On Friday, leaders of all parties in the state would be making a beeline to Pasumpon, the village in Ramnathapuram district where Muthuramalinga Thevar was born.
But BJP, which is seeking to build a caste alliance for next year's assembly elections, wants to advertise its Netaji credentials in a bid to woo the numerically large Thevar community.
On the eve of the 108th birth anniversary of the community's icon Pasumpon Muthuramalingam Thevar, a BJP ideologue observed %that Thevar was an ardent fan of Netaji, then a radical Congress leader in the late 1920s. "Thevars hold Netaji in high regard for his aggressive brand of nationalism and therefore declassification of the files will appeal to them," said BJP general secretary in-charge of TN, Murlidhar Rao
For its part, the BJP feels that its pro-Netaji posturing would strike a chord with the thevars who fancy themselves as a warrior community and had joined Netaji's INA in large numbers while living in South East Asia. Thevar deposed before the Shah Nawaz Committee that first officially probed Netaji's demise reportedly in an air crash on August 18, 1945, in Taihoku in Japan.
According to reports culled from newspapers then, the hearing on April 1, 1956, had left Thevar with an impression that it may not unravel the truth as the panel was headed by Congress MP Shah Nawaz.
So, two days later, he addressed a press conference in Delhi. Thevar had said if the committee was reconstituted with a non-Congress person at the helm, he would produce evidence that Bose was alive. Thevar also reportedly said he might talk to then premier Nehru on the issue if the latter was open to listen.
Thevar also felt that the probe would not be objective as he suspected that Bose's name figured in a list of war criminals.
Thevar also claimed that he met Bose in China in 1950 on information given by the latter's elder brother Sarat Chandra in Calcutta.
Much earlier in 1939, Bose visited Madurai for a conference of the All India Forward Bloc which he had founded around the time he was ousted as the Congress party president following differences with the moderate faction led by M K Gandhi and the high command over his radical view in favour of an armed struggle against the British to win freedom.
BJP has also been supporting a campaign to name Madurai airport after Muthuramalinga Thevar as it perceives congruence with the icon's views on nationalism and spiritualism.