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Sri Aurobindo

Bande Mataram

Early Political Writings. 1890 — May 1908

Bande Mataram. December 18, 1907

Lala Lajpat Rai's Refusal

The refusal of Lala Lajpat Rai to accept nomination to the  Presidentship of the Congress as against Dr. Rash Behari Ghose has given great cause for rejoicing to the Moderates and to Anglo-Indian journals like the Empire. The refusal is natural enough, for when a man who has not been nominated is under such circumstances pressed for a reply to the question whether he will accept nomination or not, he is put into a delicate position in which he must either appear to be wanting in modesty or give away his supporters. This was the dilemma in which the Loyalists have placed Lala Lajpat Rai. Evidently, he has been persuaded to think that he was being asked to stand against Dr. Rash Behari Ghose and that the proposal of the Nationalists was intended as a personal honour to himself. Needless to say, the Nationalists have not asked Lajpat Rai to stand as a candidate. The step they have taken is simply to ask from Dr. Rash Behari Ghose the magnanimity to withdraw and leave the field clear so that a great principle might be vindicated in the most striking way of which the circumstances admitted. Had Dr. Ghose shown that magnanimity there would have been no necessity for Lajpat Rai to be asked to stand as a candidate; the unanimous will of the country would have called him to the Presidential chair. Our proposal was not meant as an invitation to do honour to a particular individual, nor, great as is our personal regard for Lajpat Rai, was it dictated by personal affection. We look upon him as the embodiment of an ideal and his nomination as the nation's answer to the repressions of the bureaucracy. Lala Lajpat Rai, out of feelings which we respect, has declined to give us that opportunity. We are sorry to have lost it, but glad at least that of the two men put forward, one should have shown the magnanimity to which the other has not been able to rise.


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.