Basawon Singh (Sinha)

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Basawon Singh, also known as Basawon Sinha, (died 7 April 1989) was an activist in the Indian independence movement and a campaigner for the rights of the underprivileged, industrial labourers and agricultural workers. He spent more than 16 years in prisons in British India as a consequence of his support for independence and he was committed to Democratic Socialism. Along with Yogendra Shukla, he was a founder member of the Congress Socialist Party in Bihar.[1]

Early life[edit]

Basawon Singh was born in a poor family in Jamalpur (Subhai), Hajipur on 23 March 1909.[2]

Becomes a revolutionary[edit]

He joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army headed by Yogendra Shukla in 1925. He absconded in 1929 after the Lahore Conspiracy Case.[citation needed] He was co-accused in the Bhusawal, Kakori, Tirhut and Deluaha conspiracy cases.[citation needed] He carried on the movement along with Chandrashekhar Azad and Keshav Chandra Chakravarty. He was sentenced to seven years in prion and escaped from Bankipore Central jail in June 1930 after three days.[citation needed] Rearrested, he undertook a 57-day hunger-strike against the imposition of cross-bar fetters in jails. He was released in June 1936 due to frail health resulting from his fasting.[citation needed]

Congress Socialist Party and trade union work[edit]

He joined Congress Socialist Party in December 1936 and was appointed its labour secretary. He established trade unions in the coal fields, sugar mills, mica mines and railways of Bihar. He formed Japla labour union in 1937, Baulia Labour union in 1937, organised the workers of Jamalpur Workshop along with Shivnath Bannerjee, formed the Gaya cotton and Jute Mill Labour Union, formed the Tata Collieries Labour Association along with Subhas Chandra Bose, went on to become its president when Bose left India in 1941. He organised coal workers of Talcher with close co-ordination and support of Dukhabandhu Mishra (founder member of HMS union in Talcher coalfields), Rajgangpur (Orissa) and Satna (MP); established Mica Workers Union, Gomia Labour Union (Explosives), later these unions affiliated to HMS. He was active in AIRF since 1936, president of OT Railway Union from Agra to Nefa and NE Railway Mazdoor Union.[citation needed]

He was rearrested in April 1937 along with Jayaprakash Narayan, Benipuri and others in Patna for "unconstitutional" works for six months. During the Second World War he was the first man in Bihar to be arrested under Defence of India Ordinance on 26 January 1940 in Husainabad, Palamu and released after eighteen months. During the Quit India Movement, after the interception of Jayaprakash Narayan's Deoli letter addressed to him, he went underground in 1941 and went to Afghanistan to collect firearms and ammunition. He attended the Bombay AICC session (9 August 1942) and conducted the movement from the underground. He was held in Delhi on 8 January 1943 to be freed only on 3 April 1946 after which he continued his nationalist and trade union work.[citation needed]

In independent India[edit]

He was a member of the National Executive of the Socialist Party. He is the founder of HMS (Hind Mazdoor Sabha), one of the six national federations affiliated to the Socialists. He was held for Gomia strike in 1965 fighting for the rights of workers.[citation needed]

He won from Dehri-on-Sone in the first General Elections of 1952 and becomes the first leader of the opposition from 1952 until 1962. He became a Member of the Legislative Council from 1962–68. He became one of the most powerful Cabinet Ministers (Cabinet Minister of Labour, Planning and Industry) in the 1967 Coalition Government. During the Emergency of 1975 he stayed underground for 19 months conducting the movement and his wife was jailed under MISA as a potential "threat" to the Government.[citation needed]

In 1977 he wins from Dehri-on-Sone and again becomes the Cabinet Minister for Labour, Planning and Industry in the Janata Party government in the state. He died on 7 April 1989.

His wife Kamala Sinha, a grandniece of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee[3][4][5][6] was also an Indian politician and diplomat. She was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha from 1990 to 2000, and later served as Ambassador to Suriname and Barbados.[7] She also became the first woman Union Minister of State (MoS) for external affairs in the cabinet of I. K. Gujral.[7]


The Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in his name on 23 March 2000.[8] There is an indoor stadium in his name in the city of Hajipur in Bihar.[9][10]


  1. ^ Mohan, Surendra (21 March 2009). "Dr Lohia's Life and Thought: Some Notes". XLVII, No 14. Mainstream. Retrieved 23 March 2009. 
  2. ^ Lalit, Kumar (2000). Shramikon Ke Hitaishi Neta, Itihas Purush: Basawon Singh. Patna: Bihar Hindi Granth Academy. 
  3. ^ "Kamala Sinha passes away". The Hindu. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Former MoS for External Affairs Kamala Sinha passes away". Business Standard. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Former MoS for External Affairs Kamala Sinha passes away in US". India TV. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Former MoS for External Affairs Kamala Sinha Dead". Outlook. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Former union minister Kamla Sinha dies in US away". Times of India. January 1, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "I am not corrupt, says Paswan". The Times of India. 17 March 2002. Retrieved 3 April 2008. 
  10. ^ "Free-for-all at joint meeting of RJD, LJP". The Times of India. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Times of India published a booklet both in English and Hindi on 30 May 1994, titled "A Tribute".
  • Basawon Sinha; A revolutionary patriot. Commemorative Volume ed Rita Sinha and R. Manikaran (1999)