Saturday, June 24, 2023

Muslim leader from Bengal and former Member of Parliament, Badrudduja, his life and times

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Freedom fighter and prominent leader late Badrudduja is recalled for his politics as well as his firm stand on issues and oratory.

He was active during freedom struggle and participated in almost all the movements.
Even in pre-partition era, he was Mayor of Calcutta.
After 1947, his role in West Bengal politics became important. 

Badrudduja was never hesitant to speak on Muslim issues and took up the issue of injustice and atrocities with Muslims. Blitz and other newspapers termed him a 'reactionary'. However, he was unmoved and undeterred. He fearless intervened and took up the causes of the citizens. 

When he was targeted by the then State law minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, he responded to the personal attack in a manner that the former had to apologize. Badrudduja said, 'If my loyalty to my religion and culture is used to brand me, then I'm proud of it'.

In 1967, he was elected MP as IDP candidate. In Assembly & Parliament, he was vocal & hence faced consequences. Also, with Krishak Praja Party (KPP) and then IDP.  In his political life, he remained a man firm on principles and never compromised.

For example, he refused to accept that just Muslim lawmakers will have to sign a document on Kashmir. Objecting, he said that it was wrong to just ask Muslim members to sign it. Often in conflict with governments, he was imprisoned time and again.

Syed Badrudduja was born in Murshidabad, Bengal in 1900. He studied law and was Mayor of Kolkata in 1943-44. He had participated in movements during freedom struggle. later, he went on to become the  member of legislative council of West Bengal after independence.

He was elected MLA several times. Besides, he contested and won in Lok Sabha elections too. One must remember than Bengal and Punjab were most affected by partition. West Bengal was left with few influential politicians from the Muslim community, after 1947.

Both these states were cut from the middle and divided among separate countries. Badrudduja didn't move and remained in India. It was a time when Muslims of Bengal and even North India, needed political voice. 

He showed that politics was possible without joining INC or Communists, took an independent line. He fearlessly spoke and raised the issues concerning Muslims. Either it is about lack of institutions or education, he was actively taking them up in Assembly as well as Parliament. 

As far as eloquence is concerned, Tagore was fulsome in praise when he saw him speak in 1938 and termed it a 'Gift of God'. When Badrudduja was moved by the complement, Tagore said that he was a writer and oratory was a totally different skill. His English speech had cast a spell on none other than CV Raman. Similarly, he could keep audience spellbound with his Urdu speeches.

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