Chittaranjan Das, popularly known as Deshbandhu Chittaranjan, a barrister who gave up his lucrative career to fight for India’s freedom and whom Gandhi considered “one of the greatest of men”, was born on this day in 1870.
A firebrand, Das was close to Gandhi and also to the revolutionaries. He was associated with Anushilan Samiti, an underground society of revolutionariesof which Aurobindo Ghosh was a member and had famously defended Ghosh in the Alipore bomb case of 1908. He had been a leading figure in Bengal duringthe Swadeshi movement. Hindu-Muslim unity was afoundation of his politics.
He resigned as president of the Congress and founded the Swaraj Party in 1923 with Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar and Motilal Nehru. Other dissatisfied Congress, including leaders Subhas Chandra Bose, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Vithalbhai Patel, were with him.
Das was also a poet and had started journals. In 1924, he was appointed the first mayor of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation; Subhas Chandra was its chief executive officer. Das’s health began to fail early and he died in 1925. The funeral procession was led by Gandhi, who said: “He dreamed and thought and talked of freedom of India and of nothing else... His heart knew no difference between Hindus and Mus-salmans and I should like to tell Englishmen, too, that he bore no ill-will to them.”