Kolkata: Colonial-era laws such as sedition, which are continued to be used to stifle dissent, should be repealed, said Sugata Bose, the grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Bose, who won the Lok Sabha elections from Jadavpur in 2014 as a TMC candidate but refrained from contesting the last parliamentary polls, said he would like to “play a role” to bring about qualitative change “in support of democracy” — a comment seen as an indication that he may return to active politics soon.

Expressing concern, he pointed out that several colonial-era laws, which were used to try silence freedom fighters such as Netaji, Mahatma Gandhi, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, are still being used by the government.

“We have to strengthen the pillars of our democracy and there is a need to repeal these lawless colonial-era laws… I am especially worried by the fact that even the writ of Habeas Corpus can be suspended in some cases,” he told PTI in an interview.

Bose, who is the chairman of Netaji Research Bureau, besides being the Gardiner Professor of History at Harvard University, pointed out that the Supreme Court too recently questioned the need for the sedition law.

“We have continued with a whole battery of these colonial laws, sometimes under new names such as the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). These need to be scrapped to protect erosion of democracy,” he said.

“Even without a formal Emergency, application of these laws is enough to create a state of Emergency,” he added.

The charge of sedition was imposed against Netaji several times.

Bose noted that even some new rules, including those under the IT Act, “which may be well-intentioned” but has the potential to be misused.

The former lawmaker said that he would “like to play a role closer to bring about a qualitative change in support of democracy”, even as he refrained from spelling out the exact part that he is eyeing in the national political arena.

Bose is known to be close to TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and the Gandhi family, which may help him in playing a major role as the opposition parties look to unite ahead of the 2024 elections to take on the BJP.

“I firmly believe in federalism and consequently feel that we will have a stronger Union if we have a flexible union,” he said, indicating his political priorities.

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