History of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee
Background and Formation
The birth of the
Background and Formation
The birth of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee can be traced to a historical past. Just as the mother organisation, the Indian National Congress have its roots in the freedom movement, the formation of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee was an outcome of nationalist zeal against British rule.
British occupation of Assam after the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826 exposed its people to the sinister machinations of British imperialist designs. The winds of dissension against alien dominance which was beginning to stir the people of India in the early 19th century began to have its impact in Assam as well. Assam was an active participant in the 1857 `War of Independence’ when personalities like Maniram Dewan and Piyali Barua were sentenced to death for anit-British rebellion. Gradually the voice of dissent against British rule found expression in the writings of several prominent personalities of the time arousing feelings of nationalism. Several socio-cultural organisatons were formed to highlight the problems and aspirations of the common people. But a real political organisation in the true sense of the term was formed in 1884 by Jagannath Baruah in Jorhat called the Jorhat Sarbajanik Sabha. The Sabha was organised `for the purpose of representing the wishes and aspirations of the people to the government…’ .
The formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 marked the beginning of a new era in the freedom movement of India. In Assam the intelligentsia were moved by the ideals of the Indian National Congress and a telegram was sent to the first session of the Congress held in Bombay `welcoming the idea of Congress and wishing its success’. Thereafter many organisations began to send their representatives to the various sessions of the Congress. In the second session of the Congress held in Calcutta in 1886, the Indian National Congress was able to attract grassroot level representatives like Gopinath Bordoloi and Debi Charan Baruah of Upper Assam Association, Kali Kanta Barkakoti of Shillong Association, Satyanath Borah of Nowgong Ryot Association, Bipin Chandra Pal of Sylhet Association and Joy Gobinda Shome and Kamini Kumar Chanda of Habiganj People’s Association.
The need of the hour was however a broad based provincial forum to apprise the Government of the wishes and aspirations of the people and urge for reforms in administration for people’s welfare. This led to the preparation of groundwork for the formation of the Assam Association in 1903 and subsequently in 1905 , in its first session held in Dibrugarh it formally elected Raja Prabhat Chandra Baruah as its President , Jagannath Baruah as Vice-President and Manik Chandra Baruah as General Secretary. The Association served as the mouth piece of the people of Assam in presenting to the authorities their ‘needs and grievances, hopes and aspirations’. The Assam Association played a major role in maintaining the unity and integrity of Assam at the time of the Partition of Bengal in 1905 and its efforts led to the declaration of Assam as a major province equal in status with other provinces of India. Gradually the Assam Association got actively involved with the programmes initiated by the Indian National Congress like the Non-Co-operation Movement. Finally its members felt that Association should identify itself with the aims and ideals of the Indian National Congress and change its provincial outlook in order to serve the larger interest of the country’s ultimate goal in the struggle for freedom. A discussion to this effect took place at a meeting of the association held at Jorhat on 18th April, 1921 with Chobilal Upadhyay in the chair.In a subsequent resolution , at the initiative of leaders like Chobilal Upadhyay , Nabin Chandra Bordoloi, Krishna Kanta Bhattacharya decided to merge itself in the newly formed Assam Provincial Congress Committee(APCC) in 1921 which was affiliated to the Indian National Congress.By virtue of being the President of the meeting which initiated the formation of the APCC, Chobilal Upadhyay is regarded as the first President of the APCC.
Subsequently, an ad hoc committee of Assam Provincial Congress Committee (APCC) was formed in June 1921,with its headquarter at Guwahati and Kuladhar Chaliha as its president. Later Tarun Ram Phookan became the president and the reconstituted APCC elected Phookan, Gopinath Bordoloi, Bimala Prasad Chaliha, Chandranath Sarmah, Krishna Nath Sarmah and Kanak Chandra Sarmah as members of the All India Congress Committee. Under the initiative of the new committee Gandhiji was invited to Assam in 1921 to propagate the message of non-co-operation amongst the masses. His visit gave tremendous impetus to the congress workers to carry out the non-cooperation movement and implement the principles of Swadeshi. In 1926, the 41st All India Congress Committee session was hosted by the Assam provincial Congress Committee at Pandu, Guwahati which was presided over by Srinivas Iyenger. A galaxy of front ranking national leaders like Motilal Nehru, Sardar Ballav Bhai Patel, Dr.Rajendra Prasad, Madan Maohan Malaviya, Muhammad Ali, Shaukat Ali, Sarojini Naidu, S.Satyamurthy, Abul Kalam Azad, et al, attended the session.
In subsequent years leaders like Bishnuram Medhi, Siddhinath Sarmah, Maulana Tayebullah, Ambikagiri Raichoudhury and a host of prominent members took the initiative to implement the plans and programmes of the Indian National Congress to further the cause of the freedom movement. The first officially elected President of the Assam Provincial Congress Committee was Bishnuram Medhi who was elected in 1930 for a period of 9 years. Prior to independence weathering several ups and downs the Congress party finally secured a major victory in the general elections held in 1946 and Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi became the first Premier of the Assam Province. In 1946 when the Cabinet Mission proposed to merge Assam and the entire North East into `C’ group with east Bengal, the Congress party under Bordoloi fought tooth and nail the Mission’s proposal, succeeding in establishing Assam’s separate identity and inclusion in India.
After independence the Congress party continued to hold power under the leadership of Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi. The contributions of the Congress leadership of Assam in the process of nation building starting from the conceptual exercises to final implementation of plans and policies are far too many to be elaborated here. But it can be stated in no uncertain terms that the wheels of development in the state started rolling as a result of the able leadership of the Congress.
Subsequently the Assam Provincial Congress Committee came to be called as Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.