Book by Madhuri Bose throws new light on 'United Bengal' plan

A book by Madhuri Bose, grand niece of the famed Bose brothers, has thrown new light on the 'United Bengal' plan .

Published : 28 Jan 2016, 07:21 AM
Updated : 28 Jan 2016, 11:29 AM

The architect of the plan was Sarat Chandra Bose, a top-ranking Congress leader and elder brother of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The book, ‘The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence’ by the grand niece of Sarat Bose, provides detailed documentation on the 'Free and United Bengal’ plan, including letters exchanged between Sarat Bose, MA Jinnah, Gandhi and other Congress leaders as well as  British officials, including the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten.

The bold plan to keep Bengal free from Partition on religious lines emerged from a draft agreement, piloted by Sarat Bose, on May 20, 1947 between leaders of the Bengal Congress and the Muslim League.

"Gandhiji initially encouraged the plan but later betrayed Sarat Bose and went back on his earlier promise. Nehru, Patel and other Congress leaders vehemently opposed the plan from the very beginning while MA Jinnah said he would go along with the plan if the British and the Congress accepted it," says Madhuri Bose.

The May 20 draft agreement said in its preamble that "Bengali Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists have a common mother tongue and are bound by racial, social, cultural, economic and other ties and a free and united Bengal where they can fully cooperate with one another is essential for their social, economic and political progress".

The plan revolved round the formation of an interim ministry comprising 16 Muslim and 14 Hindu members to pilot the Constitution of a 'Free and United Bengal.'

The draft agreement noted, "Bengal will be a free state and will later decide the question of joining any Union by a two-thirds majority of the Free Bengal legislature."

Madhuri Bose says her grandfather Sarat Bose was an ardent nationalist and opposed the partition of India.

"But when he realised that Partition was inevitable, he decided to rescue Bengal from the tragedy and keep it outside the purview of Partition. He aimed at the creation of three post-colonial states — India, Pakistan, United Socialist Republic of Bengal."

Bose later blamed the Congress more than the Muslim League for Partition.

"He told the Bose family that the Congress High Command's refusal to enter into an electoral understanding with the Krishak Praja Party of Sher-e-Bangla Fazlul Haque before 1937 Provincial Council polls was a colossal blunder.

“He also felt the Congress leaders were in a hurry for power in 1947 and were thus endorsing everything that they should have opposed," Madhuri Bose said during the launch of her book, published by Sage this week.

Other historians of India's partition have said before that Jinnah was even willing to reconsider his Partition plans in 1947 if the Bose brothers took over the leadership of the Congress.

According to them, he was reluctant to deal with Nehru, Patel and the other Congress leaders.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher