Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee

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Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee (or Umesh Chandra Banerjee by current English orthography of Bengali names) (29 December 1844 – 21 July 1906) was an Indian barrister and was the first president of Indian National Congress. He was the first Indian to contest the election for the British House of Commons although he lost the election. He made two unsuccessful attempts to enter the British parliament.

Early days[edit]

Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee was born on 29 December 1844 at Calcutta (now Kolkata), in the present-day state of West Bengal in an upper middle class Bengali Hindu Kulin Brahmin family of considerable social standing.His ancestors belong from the village named Baganda situated in Hooghly district. His father Grees Chunder was an attorney at the Calcutta High Court. He studied at the Oriental Seminary and the Hindu School. In 1859, he married Hemangini Motilal. His career began in 1862 when he joined the firm of W. P. Gillanders, attorneys of the Calcutta Supreme Court, as a clerk. In this post he acquired a good knowledge of law which greatly helped him in his later career. In 1864 he was sent to England through a scholarship from Mr. R. J. Jijibhai of Bombay where he joined the Middle Temple and was called to the Bar in June, 1867. On his return to Calcutta in 1868, he found a patron in Sir Charles Paul, Barrister-at-Law of the Calcutta High Court.[1] Another barrister, J. P. Kennedy, also greatly helped him to establish his reputation as a lawyer. Within a few years he became the most sought after barrister in the High Court. He was the first Indian to act as a Standing Counsel, in which capacity he officiated four times. In 1883 he defended Surendranath Banerjee in the famous contempt of court case against him in the Calcutta High Court.

As a president of Indian National Congress[edit]

He presided over the first session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay in 1885. In the 1886 session held at Calcutta, under the presidency of Dadabhai Naoroji, he proposed the formation of standing committees of the Congress in each province for the better co-ordination of its work and it was on this occasion that he advocated that the Congress should confine its activities to political matters only, leaving the question of social reforms to other organisations. He was the president of the Indian National Congress again in the 1892 session in Allahabad where he denounced the position that India had to prove her worthiness for political freedom.[2] He founded East India association in 1865.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Buckland, CE (1906). Dictionary of Indian Biography. London: Swan Sonnenshein & Co. p. 48. 
  2. ^ Lacy, Creighton (1965). The Conscience Of India – Moral Traditions In The Modern World, Holt, New York: Rinehart and Winston, p. 123

External links[edit]

Preceded by
(none)
President of the Indian National Congress
1885
Succeeded by
Dadabhai Naoroji
Preceded by
Anandacharlu
President of the Indian National Congress
1892
Succeeded by
Dadabhai Naoroji