Sarat Bose and Suhrawardy for Bengal Desh
· Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was nominated to the Constituent Assembly by Congress
Dr Hari Desai Monday 06th March 2017 09:35 EST Asian Voice Weekly, London.
The aspirations of the people of British India were raised following declaration of Prime Minister Clement Attlee in the House of Commons on February 20, 1947, that the British would quit India after transferring power into the responsible hands not later than June 1948. The Muslim League headed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah was demanding a Muslim Nation i.e. Pakistan, Akali Leader Master Tara Singh aspired to have a Sikh State and Periyar E V Ramasamy was struggling to have Dravid Nadu. Apart from the States to be carved out of the British territories, even the Princely States were keen to have their own Union or Unions of States. Before Lord Wavell paved the way for Lord Mountbatten to be the Viceroy, the Hindu Mahasabha leader from Bengal, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, had made representation to the Governor of Bengal, Frederick John Burrows, for partitioning the Bengal Province. Even Hindu Congress leaders of Bengal were in support of the partition plan initiated by Dr Mookerjee. The exceptions were the leader of Congress Legislature Party Barrister (Lincoln’s Inn) Sarat Chandra Bose and the Oxford-educated Muslim League Premier of Bengal Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and their supporters, including Abul Hashim. Sarat Bose was the elder brother of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
The history is full of unusual contradictions: Dr Mookerjee, the Hindu Mahasabha leader since 1939, joined the Fazlul Huq Ministry in 1941 with the consent of the Mahasabha supremo V D Savarkar. Huq was the person who moved the “Pakistan Resolution” in the Lahore Muslim League Convention of March 1940. Sarat Bose too was to join Huq Ministry but he was arrested before the swearing in ceremony and was released only in 1945. The Bengal Premier (Chief Minister) Suhrawardy, who at later date was to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was considered to be villain of the mass murders of 17,000 Hindus in Kolkata following Jinnah’s call for Direct Action on August 16, 1946, as described by Tathagat Ray, at present the Governor of Tripura state, in the biography of Dr Mookerjee. Dr Syama Prasad was the youngest Congress Member of Bengal Legislative Council in 1929, resigned after one year following the party diktat and got elected as an Independent. He joined the Hindu Mahasabha in 1939 and rose to become all India President, got nominated to the Constituent Assembly by Congress Party in 1946 even when he was with the Mahasabha. He resigned from the Nehru Ministry in 1950.
In mid-1947, there was a move for partition of Bengal on communal lines. Dr Mookerjee with support of Hindu leaders of Congress took the initiative to safeguard the interests of Hindus since Bengal was a Muslim majority state. His argument was: if 35 per cent Muslims could not live in India with 62 per cent Hindus, how could 42 per cent Hindus stay in Bengal with 54 per cent Muslims? On May 7, 1947, a grand rally was held in Kolkata. Jadunath Sarkar presided. It was a major boost to the partition movement. The United Bengal proposal was the bid made by Bengal political leaders Suhrawardy and Sarat Bose to found a united and independent nation-state of Bengal. The proposal was floated as an alternative to the partition of Bengal on communal lines. The proponents of the plan urged the masses to reject communal divisions and uphold the vision of a United Bengal, including Assam. Sarat Bose put forward his proposal for a “Sovereign Socialist Republic of Bengal” after Suhrawardy and Hashim made it public in Delhi on April 27, 1947, and in Calcutta on April 29, 1947, respectively. Both PM Attlee and Mountbatten were sympathetic to the Bose-Suhrawardy-Hashim scheme if Bose would agree to change the title of the new State. Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel were adamant in their opposition and had won over Mahatma Gandhi, who at one point of time seemed to be sympathetic to the idea. Even Jinnah was in favour of Suhrawardy-Bose plan with his cunning calculations to have Calcutta under his thumb. On realising the stance of majority Hindus joining the partition bandwagon, Suhrawardy, the Premier of Bengal, preferred to run away to Dhaka to save his life. Both Bengal and Punjab were set for partition on communal lines, the East Bengal became Eastern Pakistan (Bangladesh since 1971) and Western Punjab became the part of Western Pakistan.
Viceroy Mountbatten objected to the name of Sarat Bose in Congress list to join the Interim Government. Nehru and Patel insisted and he was taken on board as a Member (Union Minister) for less than two months. Sisir Kumar Bose in “Sarat Chandra Bose: Remembering My Father” states: “Pandit Nehru got Gandhiji to ask father to tender his resignation to make room for nominees of the Muslim League.” Sarat even resigned from the Congress Working Committee in January 1947 and took the initiative regarding the future Constitution of Bengal as a socialist republic.
Sarat Bose made his plan public on May 20, 1947, even sent it to Gandhiji and Jinnah. On Bapu’s advice, he modified it also. Even Mountbatten was prepared to change his announcement waiting for last minute development of Bengal remaining united in a divided India. He had kept two broadcasts “A” and “B” ready, as per the “Transfer of Power” documents published by Sisir in his book. “Father was mortified at Gandhiji’s helplessness.” He adds: “The Congress High Command having summarily rejected the United Bengal formula, broadcast “A” was used by Mountbatten in his June 3, 1947, announcement of complete vivisection of India and transfer of power to two dominions.”
Both Sarat Bose and Dr Mookerjee became the Union Ministers in the Government headed by Nehru but later to resign after a short period for different reasons. Both became bitter political enemies of Nehru and established separate political parties! The two did not live long. Sarat died in 1950 keeping his hope for Akhand Bengal Desh alive till his last breath. Dr Mookerjee died in 1953 as a founder President of Jan Sangh which always had a dream for Akhand Bharat.
Hours before Sarat Bose died on February 20, 1950, he wrote the last Editorial for his journal “The Nation” making an appeal to the people of India and Pakistan: “Let East Bengal live and flourish as a distinct and separate State, but in the interests of the future well-being of the communities living in the two Bengals which, as I have said before, are integral to each other, which are each other’s home of bone and flesh of flesh, let East Bengal live and flourish under the fostering care of the Indian Union.”