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KEY LETTERS ON THE PARTITION OF BENGAL, providing a vivid impression of the intense political pressures that Gandhi faced in his final months. Sarat Chandra Bose (1889-1950) was one of the most outspoken critics of Partition. A militant socialist with a strong powerbase in Calcutta, Bose proposed an independent united Bengal. This was a counter-suggestion to the proposed partition of the province in the 3 June Plan, with Bose arguing that partition along religious lines was reactionary and likely to inflame communal tensions. Bose had allies - notably the Prime Minister of Bengal, the Muslim League's H.S. Suhrawardy - but also, as these letters show, formidable enemies in Congress, as well as in the League. Gandhi was initially supportive of Bose's efforts, but shifted his position in his letter of 8 June. He had little sympathy for Bose's vision of a socialist Bengal and, coming to see that the political forces in favour of Partition were irresistible, turned instead to trying to mitigate its effects. To Bose, Partition was a betrayal of the cause for which he had fought for thirty years: he broke completely with Congress and formed a new Socialist Republican Party, and in his final years he spoke often with contempt of "how jaundiced and weak-kneed statesmanship, supped full of an irrational despair, found in that pernicious partition the panacea for the ills of the country" (speech of 26 December 1949, quoted in Bose Brothers, p.179). Bose never turned from Gandhi, however, and understood that he had been sidelined by the key figures in Congress during the negotiations of 1947. After Gandhi's murder Bose called on his followers to find inspiration in his example: "the only way to offer true homage to the departed great is to shoulder those responsibilities with grim determination and accomplish the work left unfinished by him - the work of winning Complete Independence for India" (speech of 28 February 1948, quoted in Bose Brothers, p.182).
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