militants and the moderates were critical of the partition of Bengal ever since
it was announced in December 1903. But the anti-partition response by leaders
like Surendranath Banerjee, K.K. Mitra, and Prithwishchandra Ray remained
restricted to prayers and petitions. The objective was limited to influencing
public opinion in England against the partition. However, despite this
widespread resentment, partition of Bengal was officially declared on 19 July
failure to stop the partition of Bengal and the pressure exerted by the radical
leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal, Aswini Kumar Dutta, and Aurobindo Ghose, the
moderate leaders were forced to rethink their strategy, and look for new
techniques of protest. Boycott of British goods was one such method, which
after much debate was accepted by the moderate leadership of the Indian
National Congress. So, for the first time, the moderates went beyond their
conventional political methods. It was decided, at a meeting in Calcutta on 17
July 1905, to extend the protest to the masses. In the same meeting,
Surendranath Banerjee gave a call for the boycott of British goods and
institutions. On 7 August, at another meeting at the Calcutta Town Hall, a
formal proclamation of Swadeshi Movement was made.
the agenda of Swadeshi movement was still restricted to securing an annulment
of the partition and the moderates were very much against utilizing the
campaign to start a full-scale passive resistance. The militant nationalists,
on the other hand, were in favour of extending the movement to other provinces
too and to launch a full-fledged mass struggle.
the organized efforts of the leaders, there were spontaneous reactions against
the partition of Bengal. Students, in particular, came out in large numbers.
Reacting to the increased role of the students in the anti-partition agitation,
British officials threatened to withdraw the scholarships and grants to those
who participated in programmes of direct action. In response to this, a call
was given to boycott official educational institutions and it was decided that
efforts were to be made to open national schools. Thousands of public meetings
were organized in towns and villages across Bengal. Religious festivals such as
the Durga Pujas were utilized to invoke the idea of boycott. The day Bengal was
officially partitioned – 16 Oct 1905 – was declared as a day of mourning.
Thousands of people took bath in the Ganga and marched on the streets of
Calcutta singing Bande Mataram.