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Modern History / National Movement

Partition of Bengal 1905

The partition of Bengal took place in 1905 though the Governor General, Lord Curzon unofficially announced the partition in 1903. During this period, anti-partition movement got the momentum. Despite the anti-partition protests, the Bengal partition was declared officially on 19th July, 1905 and it came into effect on 16th October, 1905. The reasons for partition of Bengal as given by Lord Curzon were administrative reasons. He said Bengal was too big, both in area (1.89 lakh square miles) and population (around 78.5 million), so administration was becoming difficult.

Partition of Bengal and Surat Split

  • The actual reasons for partition of Bengal were more of political in nature rather than administrative. At that time, there was birth of nationalism in Bengal and at the same time there was unity among the Hindu and Muslim population. Hence, the British wanted the policy of Divide and Rule.

  • Congress party opposed the partition of Bengal and it started anti-partition movement, which was carried out by the Moderates between 1903 and 1905. The leaders of anti Bengal partition movement were Surendra Nath Banerjee, Prithwischadra Ray and K.K. Mitra.

    The aim was to prevent partition in Bengal. The partition was delayed because Curzon was busy with some other issues in England.

  • On 16th October, 1905, the proposed partition of Bengal came into force. Extremists were extremely disappointed the way the Moderates led the anti-partition movement. After partition, the gulf between Moderates and Extremists got increased. These conflicts led to split in Congress.

  • In 1905, the annual session of Congress was held in Banaras with Gopal Krishna Gokhale as President. In the Banaras session of Congress, Extremists raised voice against Moderates. Swadeshi resolution was passed in this session and both the groups accepted Swadeshi. So, the partition of Bengal and Swadeshi movement went on one after the other.

  • In 1906, in Calcutta session of Congress under Dadabhai Naoroji as President, Swaraj resolution was approved. Extremists wanted Bal Gangadhar Tilak to become the President.

    Naoroji got involved and expressed his willingness to be the President. Both groups accepted his candidature. So, Naoroji postponed the split in Congress.

  • In 1907, in Surat session of Congress under Rash Behari Ghosh as the President, Congress got split into two groups, blaming each other and suspending each other. This is called Surat Split of 1907. In this regard, Minto II wrote to Morley that it was a great day.

    Earlier, the session has been shifted from Nagpur to Surat in order to prevent Tilak becoming the President. In those days Nagpur was part of Central Province and Surat was part of Bombay Province. Congress had the policy of not electing a person as the president from the same province where the session is held.

  • After the Swadeshi Movement got declined in 1908, the cancellation of the partition of Bengal was announced in the year 1911 and it was implemented in 1912.

    This announcement was done because of the visit of King George V. In his honour, a Durbar was conducted in Delhi on 12th December 1911, by the Governor General, Hardinge II.

    In this Durbar, King George V announced two boons to Indians, (i) Cancellation of partition of Bengal (to please the Congress) and (ii) Shifting of capital from Calcutta to Delhi (to please Muslims). The capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi in the year 1912.