Sarat Chandra Sinha

Born on January 1, 1914 to a poor farmer’s family in Bhakatpara village of Chapar under Dhubri district, Sinha started schooling from his village school. For secondary education, he attended a High School in Bilasipara, some 25 km from his home, a distance what he covered daily on foot or by bicycle. He received his bachelor degree from the Cotton College, Guwahati and subsequently moved to Banaras Hindu University for law education. After getting a law degree, Sinha came back to Guwahati and practised law for a short period and then switched to school teachings in different positions from assistant teacher to headmaster in Dhubri district. During the reorganisation of States on the basis of languages in early 50s, a section of people in lower Assam tried to merge the undivided Goalpara district with West Bengal. But Sinha fought the move alone, and kept Goalpara district well embedded within the geographical boundary of Assam.

Sarat Chandra Sinha was a successful Chief Minister of Assam and a leader of Indian National Congress, Indian National Congress (Socialist) and Nationalist Congress Party. Known for his value-based politics, Sinha belonged to a rare breed of politicians who sacrificed his life for the welfare of the downtrodden people of Indian society. A true Gandhian, he never compromised with his principle what he preached and practised. His illustrious political life was a rare combination of honesty, simplicity and integrity.
Sinha entered politics in 1946 through Indian National Congress and elected to Assam state assembly four times from Bilasipara east constituency in 1946-52, 1962-67, 1972-78 and 1985-90. He was first made an interim chief minister in 1972 by Indira Gandhi and subsequently became an elected chief minister and served till 1978. He also served the Congress party in various positions and capacities like general secretary, vice-president and president. However, he later joined Congress (S) after the emergency era which was imposed by Indira Gandhi and became the national president of it in 1987. Sinha faced some challenging task in his tenure of chief ministership like shifting the state capital from Shillong to Dispur, when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam along with Shillong and the language agitation in 1972, which rocked the state, a demand for the introduction of Assamese as the sole medium of instruction in Assam. He was instrumental in setting up the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital and Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemical Limited. He believed in decentralisation of power and introduced Panchayati Raj in the State for the welfare of the backward communities. He also sowed the seeds of cooperative movement in Assam to boost State’s economy. When Sharad Pawar left the Congress to form the Nationalist Congress Party, he joined him and led the party in Assam till his death. A man of the masses, Sinha became a living legend during his lifetime. He was the most common man in an uncommon society. Like a young man at the age of 90, he attended literary discussion, drama workshop, dharna, hunger strike or trade union meeting. He died on December 25, 2005 at his Guwahati residence due to old age ailments.

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