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Bose,Sarat Chandra (1889-1950)

Sarat Chandra Bose was born in Calcutta on 7 September 1889 and died there on 20 February 1950. He belonged to old and aristocratic Kayastha family of Kodalia in the 24 Parganas district (West Bangal). His father, Janaki Nath Bose, was a leading lawer at lawyer at Guttack (Orissa). His mother’s name was Prabhabati Devi. He married Bibhabati Devi. Subhas Chandra Bose was one of his younger brothers.

Educated in Cuttack and Calcutta, Sarat Chandra left for England in 1911 after graduation. There he was called to the bar. Returning home in 1913, he joined the Calcutta High Court Bar and gradually rose to the top of the legal profession. Despite his preoccupation with public work in many fields and interruptions to legal practice caused by terms of imprisonment for services to the nation, he commanded high fees and earned almost a fabulous income.

Drawn in early life to political activities, Sarat Chandra started his active political career under the leadership of C. R. Das and became after his death a stalwart of the Congress in Bengal. He worked in close co-operative with Dr. Bidhan Chandra Toy, Nalini Rajan Sarkar, Nirmal Chandra Chunder and Tulsi Charan Goswami. Indeed, the “ Big Five ” dominated Congress politics and the affairs of the Calcutta Corporation for many years. He joined the Civil Disobedience Movement. Inspite of his firm faith in non-violence he had sympathy for the revolutionary fighters for freedom. He rendered free service to the accused as defence counsel in the Chittagong Armoury Raid Case.

The years 1937-1946 represent the peak of Sarat Chandra’s political career. As a member of the Congress Working Committee (1937-39) he was a powerful force in determining the general policies of the Congress during a crucial period. As leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the Bengal Legislative Assembly he brought into prominence his great gifts as a parliamentarian, as an orator and as a political strategist. He tried to check the rising tide of communalism under Muslim League administration in Bengal.

He joined the Interim Government formed at the Centre in August 1946, in pursuance of the Cabinet Mission Plan, but resigned soon afterwards (November 1946).

Sarat Chandra had his differences with the Congress High Command on some previous occasions, but the parting of the way came towards the close of 1946. He resigned from the Congress and formed a new party called the Socialist Republican Party. He opposed the partition of Bengal and tried, in co-operation with Sahid Suhrawardy, to make individual Bengal an independent

State outside India and Pakistan. But the political tide was against him; the partition of Bengal could not be prevented. In 1949 he secured a resounding victory over a Congress candidate in a contest for election to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, But death put a premature end to his political career.

Sarat Chandra was closely associated with two successive organs of Congress Politics, the Forward and the Advance, which were leading English dailies for a few years. Later after his breach with the Congress, he started in 1948 an English daily, the Nation, to propagate his own political views.

Political leadership in Bengal brought Sarat Chandra into close contact with the all-India and Provincial leaders of the period 1920-1950, including Mahatma Gandhi, G.T. Das, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopallchari, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Maulvi Fazlul Huq and a host of others. He had also friendly contacts with some revolutionary leader whom he gave financial and legal assistance.

Complete independence for India was Sarat Chandra’s basic political ideal. The independendence won in 1947 did not satisfy him fully. The objective of the Nation was stated to be the propagation of the ideal of “ Complete Independence of India, Independence undiluted and undefiled, free from British or any foreign influence and control, beyond the reach of any power on earth”. In the last years of his life he dreamed of transforming India into a Union of autonomous Socialist Republics.

In 1949 he declared: “ Socialism alone is the cure for our country’s ills; the Right-Wing Congress leadership’s blundering policy has led the country from one fold of slavery to another and is sure to bring complete political and economic ruin of the country “. He always thought of India as one, resisting regionalism and communalism whenever he found these monsters raising their heads. Although he never formally left the fold of Hinduism, he was an ardent liberal in social matters in thought and conduct. He spared no efforts to warn his countrymen against the evils of caste and untouchability.

Although he did not sever his official link with the Congress till the closing years of his
life, Sarat Chandra was throughout his long political career a more or less restless spirit, full of ideas, impatient for action, and distrustful of compromises. Had he chosen to extend his field of action outside Bengal, he might have left a much more fruitful and abiding impression on our national history.

Author : A. C. Banerjee