Social Scientist. v 23, no. 263-65 (April-June 1995) p. 38.

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Paradox ofAnti- Partition Agitation And Swadeshi Movement In Bengal (1905)^

The Partition of Bengal in 1905 by Lord Curzon, the Governor-General of India on ground of administrative convenience evoked strong resentment and sustained agitation from the Bengalees in particular and Indians in general hitherto unprecedented and unknown to the political history of the country. It has been described variously by different authorities - Indian as well as foreign. The announcement of the decision was greeted spontaneously with widespread disapproval from the educated and the intellectuals. This immediately became the rallying point for the Bengalees, in the first instance, to throw a gauntlet to the Imperial authorities in general and to Lord Curzon who vivisected Bengal into two halves - East Bengal and West Bengal.

Lord Curzon has been described by his contemporaries as well as historians as a person of varied qualities : intelligent, efficient, abrasive, energetic, scheming and contemptuous to the Bengalees. He has also been described as hardworking, sympathetic, and an able and clear-headed administrator not known to India before him.

Sir Surendra Nath Banerjea, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Ananda Mohan Bose, Amvika Charan Mazumdar, Bipin Chandra Pal, Sister Nivedita, Annie Besant, to mention a distinguished few, were the front-rank leaders of the anti-partition agitation or Bango Bhango Andolan. October 16,1905 witnessed the implementation of the scheme of partition of the province into East and West Bengal. A high priest of the swadeshi and anti-partition movement. Sir Surendra Nath Banerjea wrote in his autobiography:

'The year 1905 was one of the most memorable in the history of Bengal. It would be no exaggeration to say that it was an epoc-making year, leaving a far reaching influence on the public life of Bengal and the future of the country.'1

The announcement of the partition on 20 July, 1905 itself was an unexpected event to the people who had little inkling.

"The announcement fell like a bomb-shell upon an astonished public. But in our bewilderment we did not lose our heads. We made up our minds to do all that lay in our power, with the aid of constitutional means at our disposal, to reverse, or at least a modification of, the partition."2

Commissioner, Tirhut & Saran Divisions, Bihar Paper prepared for the 55th Indian History Congress, Aligarh

Social Scientist, Vol 23, Nos 4-6, April-June 1995

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