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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. 25 August, 1906

A Pusillanimous Proposal

We published yesterday the letter of Babu Ananda Chandra Roy of Dacca in which he invites East Bengal to welcome Mr. Hare and establish with the Shillong Government the ordinary relations of kow-towing and petitioning. We characterised the letter as an indefensible production and a second perusal only confirms us in the impulse to give it a yet harsher name. What Babu Ananda Chandra proposes under the cover of lawyer-like arguments and illogical sophistry, is no less than to betray his country.

The whole of Bengal has registered a solemn vow that let Viceroys do what they will and Secretaries of State say what they will, the united Bengali nation refuses and will for ever refuse to acknowledge the Partition. Taxes we may pay, laws we may obey, but beyond that we have no farther relations with the Government of Shillong. The position is clear, beyond sophistry, above dispute. Whatever differences may exist among us, on this there is one unanimous voice. But Babu Ananda Chandra Roy can no longer bear the deprivation of the fleshpots of Egypt or the strain of self-denial and stern resistance which this resolution implies and wishing himself to recoil from that arduous position, he invites all his countrymen to follow his lead and countenance him in a cowardly surrender.

And why are we to commit this inglorious act of political suicide? In the first place, because Mr. Hare is such a nice gentleman and therefore the “grounds and causes” we had for avoiding that bad bold man Sir Bampfylde no longer exist. We do not know what grounds and causes Ananda Babu had for avoiding Sir B. Fuller we have a suspicion that it was because public opinion left him no choice; but the one ground and cause that Bengal had for this action was the existence of the Partition, that and nothing else. The Partition exists in full force and the “grounds and causes” exist therefore unabated and unimpaired. The “leadership” which regulates grave political issues according to the personal character and amiability of the ruler for the time being, is a leadership for which India has no longer any use. It is not Hare and Fuller that matter, but our country and the British system and policy which seeks to keep us in perpetual servitude.

Other of Ananda Babu's reasons for submission are that it will enable himself and his friends to enter the Legislative Council of the new province, to act as Honorary Magistrates and visitors of Lunatic Asylums and to get the circulars for the preference of Mahomedans in appointments modified or abrogated. The fossils of the old days of selfish submission are incorrigible. We should have thought otherwise that to advance such contemptible reasons for acquiescing in the mutilation of one's country would have been regarded as an act of inconceivable shamelessness.

Ananda Babu, however, will not admit that he is counselling acquiescence, for he is quite willing to mention in every address to the new ruler of Shillong that we are weeping for the Partition and will go on weeping inconsolably on stated public occasion until it is rescinded! The childishness of such a suggestion would be amusing if it were not painful to think that such political ineptitude proceeds from a man who has long been looked up to as a leader and counsellor in our political movements.

Manifestos and utterances of this kind compel us to ask whether some of our “Swadeshi” leaders are sincere in desiring that the Partition should be rescinded. The ugliest feature of the Swadeshi agitation has been the refusal of the members for the East Bengal districts to vacate their seats on the Legislative Council. Ananda Babu's letter is another sign of evil omen. But there is one man among the older leaders whose sincerity cannot be doubted. Babu Surendranath Banerji is the leader of United Bengal; he has just declared himself at Barisal, the high priest of the mother's worship. Will he permit this calm proposal to desecrate her image and perpetuate its mutilation and utter no protest?

Ananda Babu has other proposals equally remarkable. He proposes to beseech the Government to help us in the Swadeshi movement; to smother the Boycott, as an illegtimate child or at least to conceal it as if it were something we were ashamed of; to bow down to the settled fact, as the fiat of the Highest Authority, confusing apparently Mr. John Morley with that Power which undoes the decrees of Statesmen and Princes! And he asks us, “Save and except showing our disapprobation of the Partition what else can we gain by avoiding the new L.-G.?” That is a question easy to answer. If we persist in the Boycott both of British goods and of British offices and officials, we shall gain, if nothing else, the speedy reversal of the Partition. It is a pity that our leaders understand so little of British politics, otherwise they would understand that it is only in this way that Mr. Morley's game of bluff can be met. The Partition cannot be maintained against a permanently alienated and restless Bengal. But there is one way in which we can perpetuate Lord Curzon's work, and that is to submit, to give up the fight and bow the knee betraying, for individual advantages and temporary gains, our mother.


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