Faizabad: An interesting piece of information regarding whether Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose resurfaced in the guise of `Gumnami Baba` post the alleged disappearance in the 1945 plane crash has come to the fore.
On Tuesday, the Sahai Commission was informed that President Pranab Mukherjee had met Gumnami Baba in Faizabad in the 1980s during his stint as a Union minister in the Congress government.
The 57-year-old Ravindra Shukla, who was in touch with Gumnami Baba, admitted before the commission that Mukherjee visited the monk once, during Navratri in October, reported The Times of India.
Notably, Shukla is one of the 13 people who witnessed Gumnami Baba’s funeral at Guptaar Ghat. Talking to the daily, Shukla said: “It was around 1981-82 when I was instructed by Bhagwanji (Baba) to accompany a Bengali gentleman to the local market. The Bengali gentleman was staying at Ayodhya’s Birla Dharamshala. I ferried the gentleman on my Yezdi motorcycle to Chowk area of Faizabad, where he purchased clothes and some dry fruits.”
“After this, I dropped the gentleman at Birla Dharamshala. Since I stayed with the Bengali gentleman for a long time, I could recall his face. Later, when he became a Union minister and subsequently the President, I could easily recall and recollect that the person whom I took to the market was Pranab Mukherjee,” Shukla wrote in his submission to the commission.
“I had never seen Bhagwanji (Baba) till the time he was alive (sic) but had the opportunity of getting blessed by him, physically touching his feet and even repairing his room cooler (while covered in a blanket or bedsheet).The first time I saw Bhagwanji with my own eyes was after he passed away, and he closely resembled Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” Shukla said.
Mukherjee served as minister of commerce and steel & mines from January 1980 to January 1982, and finance minister from January 1982 to December 1984.
In June, the Uttar Pradesh government set up Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission to probe the identity of Gumnami Baba, reigniting the debate whether the ascetic who lived in the state’s Faizabad district till 1985 was Netaji.
While the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government in 2015 declassified 64 files on Netaji, the Narendra Modi-led government, beginning this January, has made public a series of files revealing many sensational facts about the revolutionary.