Indian Freedom Fighters : Surendranath Banerjee

Sir Surendranath Banerjee (1848–1925) was one of the earliest Indian political leaders from Calcutta. He founded the Indian National Association and later became a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. He was also known as Rashtraguru. After graduating from the University of Calcutta, he traveled to England in 1868, along with Romesh Chunder Dutt and Behari Lal Gupta to compete in the Indian Civil Service examinations. He cleared the competitive examination in 1869, but was barred owing to a dispute over his exact age. After clearing the matter in the courts, Banerjee cleared the exam again in 1871 and was posted as assistant magistrate in Sylhet. However, Banerjee was dismissed soon from his job owing to racial discrimination. Banerjee went to England to protest this decision, but was unsuccessful. After returing to India, he founded the Indian National Association with Anandamohan Bose, one of the earliest Indian political organization of its kind, in 1876. He used the organization to tackle the issue of age-limit for Indian students appearing for ICS examinations. He condemned the racial discrimination perpetrated by British officials in India through speeches all over the country, which made him very popular. 
In 1879, he founded the newspaper, The Bengalee. In 1883, when Banerjee was arrested for publishing remarks in his paper. After the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885 in Bombay, Banerjee merged his organization with it owing to their common objectives and memberships. He was elected the Congress President in 1895 at Poona and in 1902 at Ahmedabad.
Surendranath was one of the most important public leaders who protested the partition of the Bengal province in 1905. Banerjee was in the forefront of the movement and organized protests, petitions and extensive public support across Bengal and India, which finally compelled the British to reverse the bifurcation in 1912. Banerjee became the patron of rising Indian leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Sarojini Naidu. Banerjee was also one of the senior-most leaders of the moderate Congress - those who favoured accommodation and dialogue with the British - after the extremists left the party in 1906. Banerjee was an important figure in the Swadeshi movement - advocating goods manufactured in India against foreign products.
The declining popularity of moderate Indian politicians affected Banerjee's role in Indian politics. Banerjee supported the Morley-Minto reforms 1909 – which were resented and ridiculed as insufficient and meaningless by the vast majority of the Indian public and nationalist politicians.
He published an important work, A Nation in Making which was widely acclaimed. The British respected him and referred to him during his later years as Surrender Not Banerjee. Banerjee could accept neither the extremist view of political action nor the noncooperation of Gandhi, then emerging as a major factor in the nationalist movement. Banerjee saw the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms of 1919 as substantially fulfilling Congress's demands, a position which further isolated him. Accepting the portfolio of minister in the Bengal government earned him the ire of nationalists and much of the public, and he lost the election to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1923 to Bidhan Chandra Roy, the candidate of the Swarajya Party – ending his political career.

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