The Unforgettable Gopinath Bordoloi

The Northeast Dialogue

Eminent freedom fighter Gopinath Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam, regarded as the prime architect of the modern polity of Assam. He was the first and the only person from the Northeastern region to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.

Gopinath Bordoloi was born on June 6, 1890, at Raha in Assam. He was born to Buddheshwar Bordoloi and Praneshwari Bordoloi. He passed MA from Calcutta University in 1914. Returning from Kolkata, he worked as the headmaster of Guwahati’s famous Sonaram High School. After passing the law examination, he practiced in Guwahati. Due to Bordoloi’s unselfish dedication towards Assam, the then Governor of Assam Jayram Das Doulatram conferred him with the title “Lokpriya” which means to be loved by all. 

Assam, including the whole northeastern part of our country, was also not behind other states of India as far as our freedom movement is concerned. Hundreds of freedom fighters of Assam sacrificed their lives for the Independence of India under the leadership of the Congress party. But it was probably out of their imagination that the Congress leadership had some other plan in their mind about the fate of Assam. Congress leadership including Jawaharlal Nehru was in favor of Assam’s merger with East Pakistan to appease the Muslim League. This was confronted by Gopinath Bordoloi, who demonstrated his nationalistic pride, wisdom, and perseverance to ensure that Assam stayed with India.

Unlike other states, the freedom fighters and Congress leaders of Assam had to fight two battles during India's freedom movement. One against the British and another against their central leadership. In the central administration of Congress, only Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Sarat Chandra Bose were against the inclusion of Assam in the “Grouping”. 

An eminent politician Gopinath Bordoloi had worked closely with Sardar Vallabhai Patel to secure the geographic identity of Assam against China and East Pakistan. He also helped to organize the rehabilitation of millions of Hindu refugees who had fled East Pakistan. At the same time, he was instrumental in establishing Guwahati High Court, Assam Medical College, Guwahati University and Assam Veterinary College, etc. Bordoloi’s chief ministership in Assam saw the rapid development of the state. He succeeded in uniting all the sections of the society. Gopinath Bordoloi’s government was the first among all provincial governments in India which dared to levy agricultural income tax on rich and powerful planters and help usher in ‘swaraj’ in place of ‘planter’s raj’. Gopinath Bordoloi was also a good writer. He wrote several books which included “Buddhadeb”, “Annaskaktiyog” and “Shreeramachandra”.

Today, on his death anniversary, we pay a warm tribute to Bharat Ratna Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi, a great hero of our freedom struggle, whose love for the nation ultimately got translated into our Independence.


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