Amidst speculation that the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna may be conferred on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, his family members on Sunday disapproved of the idea, saying figures like Netaji and Gandhi were above the award.
The freedom fighter's grandnephew, Sugato Bose, who is also a Trinamool Congress MP said, "Keep Netaji out of partisan politics. His stature is bigger than Bharat Ratna. How can Netaji be given Bharat Ratna after Rajiv Gandhi? Anyone with a sense of history will agree with me".
Bose, a Harvard University professor who has written a biography of the leader, wondered how Netaji can be given Bharat Ratna after 43 people have got it before him.
"Netaji and Gandhi are above Bharat Ratna. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a perfect candidate for Bharat Ratna, not Netaji. Don't put forward Netaji's name," Bose said.
Chandra Kumar Bose, Netaji's another grandnephew, claimed most family members were opposed to the conferment of the award and instead demanded that the mystery of his disappearance be solved first.
"Netaji has been missing since 1945. When you award him with Bharat Ratna posthumously, you have to say when he died, but where is the evidence? The best way to honour him is to declassify government files which can reveal the truth behind his disappearance," he told PTI.
He said he had spoken to around 60 family members of the nationalist leader, none of whom was willing to accept the award on his behalf.
"All of us feel that Bharat Ratna is not the appropriate award for him. None of us will go and accept the award," Bose said.
The family and members of the Open Platform for Netaji had recently written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding formation of a Special Investigation Team under the guidance of a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to investigate into Netaji's disappearance.
When under house arrest by the British, Netaji had escaped from India in 1941 to seek international support for India's freedom struggle.
He went missing in 1945, giving birth to India's most debated and lingering mystery ever. The Mukherjee Commission which inquired into the disappearance had rejected the opinion that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.