In December 2018, Saikat Chakrabarti, the chief of staff to US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, appeared in a video for NowThis News.
In the clip, Chakrabarti spoke about working with Ocasio-Cortez and what her community expects of her. Months later, the video has resurfaced, only to trigger a debate about the man on his T-shirt: Subhas Chandra Bose.
On July 10, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published an article describing Bose as an “Indian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis”. Bose went to Germany in 1941, during World War II, to seek help Adolf Hitler’s help to free India from British rule. To do so, Bose formed the Azad Hind Fauz or Indian National Army.
For some American right wingers, Chakrabarti’s T-shirt was a handy stick with which to attack Ocasio-Cortez.
After the Agency’s account, Newsweek picked up on Chakrabarti’s T-shirt from the December video. Said its headline: “Who was Subhas Chandra Bose? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez senior staffer criticised for sporting image of Nazi collaborator.”
That description of the Independence-era leader has not gone down well with Indians.
More than seven decades after his death, Bose remains a revered figure for Indians. In December 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi renamed three Andaman islands after Bose as a mark of respect towards his contribution to the freedom struggle.