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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. 10 September, 1906

Secret Tactics

The telegram from our correspondent in Mymensingh, which we publish in another column, is extremely significant. It is now an open secret throughout the country that the Swadeshi movement has developed two distinct parties in the country. One of these desires to use Boycott as a political weapon merely in order to force on the annulment of the Partition and there finish; its quarrel with the bureaucracy is a passing quarrel and it is ready to be again hand in glove with the Government as soon as its turn is served; it still desires to sit on the Legislative Councils, figure on the Municipalities, and carry on politics by meetings and petitions. The other party will be satisfied with nothing less than absolute control over our own affairs and is not willing to help the Government to put off the inevitable day when that demand must be conceded; it is therefore opposed to any co-operation with the Government or to the adoption of a suppliant attitude in our relations to the Government; it desires the Boycott as a necessary part of our economic self-development and by no means to be relinquished even if the Partition be rescinded. Here are definite issues which have to be fought out until some definite settlement is reached. We desire the issue to be fought out on a fair field, each party seeking the suffrages of the country and attempting to educate the great mass of public opinion to its views. Unfortunately, the Leaders of the older school are not willing to give this fair field. They prefer to adopt a Machiavellian strategy and work1 in the darkness and by diplomatic strokes and secret coup d'état. They do not wish to work with the prominent and most militant members of the new school on the Reception Committee, they will not admit the country to their councils for fear the strength of the new school might increase, and they attempt to follow the example of the Fuller Government, to prevent them from holding public meetings. Recently the new school have put forward Mr. Tilak as the fittest name for the Presidentship, and the country has already begun to respond to the suggestion. The old leaders cannot publicly confess their reasons for not desiring Mr. Tilak, but they seem to be attempting cleverly to get out of the difficulty by bringing Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji over from England. We should have thought the Grand Old Man of India was a name too universally revered to be made the stalking-horse of a party move. But quite apart from this aspect of the question, we would draw attention to the indecorous and backstairs manner in which this important step is being made. It is the work of the Reception Committee to propose a President for the Congress; but the old leaders have been carefully avoiding any meeting of the Reception Committee and are meanwhile making all arrangements for the Congress and Exhibition secretly, unconstitutionally, and among a small clique. Had the name of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji been proposed constitutionally in the Reception Committee, all would have been well; as it is, the most venerable name in India is in danger of being associated with a party stratagem carried through by unconstitutional means. Meanwhile, there is no reason why the meetings for Mr. Tilak's Presidentship should not be proceeded with; until the Reception Committee meets and Mr. Naoroji accepts an invitation from them, the question remains open. But the attitude of the old leaders shows a settled determination to exclude the new school from public life. If that be so, the present year will mark a struggle for the support of the country, and the control of the Congress which, however long it may last, can only have one end.


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 18901908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.

1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: working