Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi at a glimpse –
|6 June 1890
Raha, Assam, British India
|5 August 1950 (aged 60)
Guwahati, Assam, India
|Indian National Congress
University of Calcutta
|Bharat Ratna (1999)
Gopinath Bordoloi (6 June 1890 – 5 August 1950) was a politician and Indian independence activist who served as the first Chief Minister of Assam. He was a follower of the Gandhian principle of non-violence as a political tool. It was due to Bordoloi’s unselfish dedication towards Assam and its people, the then Governor of Assam Jayram Das Doulatram conferred him with the title “Lokapriya” (loved by all).
Gopinath Bordoloi was born on 6 June 1890 at Raha.His father was Buddheswar Bordoloi and mother Praneswari Bordoloi. He lost his mother when he was only 12 years old.
He married Surabala Devi in the year 1910. Bordoloi passed matriculation in the year 1907. He did his graduation from Scottish Church College in Calcutta in 1911. Bordoloi passed MA from Calcutta University in 1914.
Returning from Calcutta he worked as a headmaster of Sonaram High school. After passing the law examination he practiced in Guwahati.
Assam Congress was formed in 1921 as a branch of the Indian National Congress. Gopinath Bordoloi’s political life started when he joined the Indian National Congress as a volunteer in that year. He actively participated in the fight for independence. He was arrested in 1922 due to active participation in the Non-co-operation movement and was put in jail for a year. When the movement was called off following the Chauri Chaura incident, he went back to practising law. From 1930 to 1933, he kept himself away from all political activity and got involved in various social works after becoming member of Guwahati Municipal Board and Local Board. In addition, he was constantly demanding a separate University and High Court for Assam.In 1935 Government of India Act was articulated with a view to form British India. Congress decided to participate in the Regional Assembly election in 1936. They won 38 seats and became the party with majority in Assembly, but due to a dubious law meant to reduce the power of Ministers and the Cabinet, they decided to remain as opposition party instead of forming the government. Gopinath Bordoloi was elected as the leader of the opposition party. With the support of other parties apart from Congress, Md. Sadulla formed the Cabinet of Ministers. The Congress party was gaining people’s support as the government remained unaware of the basic problems of Assam. The Md. Sadulla Cabinet Ministers resigned in September 1938. The Governor then invited Gopinath Bordoloi to form the government and accordingly they took oath on 21 September.The reasons of Gopinath Bordoloi becoming Chief Minister of undivided Assam were his political prowess, superb personality, truthfulness and behaviour which attracted not only his colleagues but also people of various communities. Congress got recognition as a powerful political party in Assam by virtue of his ability and intelligence. His contributions as Chief Minister were mainly to stop Land Tax, stop giving lands to migrant Muslims to secure the right of indigenous people etc.
He did not rise much as a freedom fighter, but his dedication to the national freedom movement was showed during the time period between 1946-1947.
This was the time when a majority of the muslim political leaders from Bengal most of them under the mislim league, wanted to include the Hindu dominated Assam into East Pakistan.
Bordoloi’s freedom struggle was influenced by Rabindranath Tagore, JC Bose, Surendranath Banerjee.
Not only Bordoloi had an extremely powerfull cahracter and superb vision but he was also a good writer. He wrote several books which included “Buddhadeb”, “Annaskaktiyog”, “Hajrat Mohammad” and “Shreeramachandra”.
Gopinath Bordoloi’s life history will remain incomplete without the mention of various honors and awards conferred upon him. Gopinath Bordoloi was the first and the only person from the Northeastern region to be the awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country.
He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna. The award came half a century after his demise in 1950.