Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908
Bande Mataram. 14 September, 1906
A Disingenuous Defence
The strictures which the extraordinary announcement made at Bhagalpur by Babu Surendranath Banerji has aroused, have compelled the Bengalee to offer a sort of apology or explanation for the unconstitutional action of the leaders. It was distinctly stated at Bhagalpur that Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji had accepted the Presidentship of the Congress. It follows, therefore, that the Presidentship was unconstitutionally offered to Mr. Naoroji by one or two individuals behind the back of the Reception Committee. It is now explained that Mr. Naoroji simply wired his willingness to accept the Presidentship offered to him. On this theory the offer was a private suggestion of individuals and the individuals made a public announcement of their private suggestion and its private acceptance, in order to compromise the Reception Committee and force its hands. The explanation therefore does not exculpate the authors of this stratagem; it only makes their action more disingenuous and tricky. No individual has any right to take privately the consent of Mr. Naoroji or another, as if the Presidentship depended on his choice. Until the Reception Committee has decided to whom it will offer the function, all that individuals, be they never so much leaders, have the authority to do is to put forward name or names for recommendation by the Committee. It is only after the Committee has made its decision that the person selected can be asked whether he is willing to accept the offer. If it is thought necessary to make sure of this beforehand, that also can only be done with the sanction or by the direction of the Committee. The fact that the Bengalee should have advanced such a puerile quibble to justify the conduct of Babu Bhupendranath is a proof that these “constitutional” leaders have no conception whatever of what constitutional action means. The plea that it had long been known Mr. Naoroji was coming to India and it was therefore thought fit to ask him to preside at the Congress, is one which will command no credit. When did this “fitness” occur to men who were proposing Harram1 Singh and Mudholkar and everybody and anybody, but never Mr. Naoroji; although it was known that he was coming to India? Not until Mr. Tilak's name was before the country and they saw that none of the mediocrities they had suggested could weigh in the scale with the great Maratha leader. Not by these sophisms will the Calcutta autocrats escape the discredit of their actions.
Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.- Set in 37 volumes.- Volumes 6-7.- Bande Mataram: Political Writings and Speeches. 1890–1908 .- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2002.- 1182 p.
1 2002 ed. CWSA, vol.6-7: Harnam