Sarat Chandra Sinha

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Sarat Chandra Sinha
5th Chief Minister of Assam
In office
31 January 1972 – 12 March 1978
Preceded byMahendra Mohan Choudhry
Succeeded byGolap Borbora
President, Indian Congress (Socialist) – Sarat Chandra Sinha
In office
Member of Assam Legislative Assembly
In office
Preceded byRookmini Kanta Roye
Succeeded byAnowar Hussain
ConstituencyBilasipara East
In office
Succeeded byRookmini Kanta Roye
ConstituencyBilasipara East
In office
ConstituencyBilasipara East
In office
ConstituencyBilasipara East
In office
ConstituencyBilasipara East
Personal details
Born(1914-01-01)1 January 1914
Chapar, Assam Province, British India
Died25 December 2005(2005-12-25) (aged 91)
Guwahati, Assam, India
Political partyNationalist Congress Party (1999-2005)
Other political
Indian National Congress (1946-1978)
Indian National Congress (Socialist) (1978-1984)
Indian Congress (Socialist) – Sarat Chandra Sinha (1984-1999)
SpouseLabanya Sinha
ParentLalsingh Sinha (Father)
Alma materBanaras Hindu University

Sarat Chandra Sinha (1 January 1914 – 25 December 2005) was an Indian politician and Chief Minister of Assam.[1] He was a leader of Indian National Congress, Indian National Congress (Socialist) and Nationalist Congress Party.

He was known for his value-based politics, Sinha belonged to a rare breed of politicians who sacrificed his life for the welfare of the downtrodden people of Indian society.[2] A true Gandhian, he never compromised with his principle what he preached and practised.[3] His illustrious political life was a rare combination of honesty, simplicity and integrity.[citation needed] He was also a writer.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Sinha was born in a Rajbanshi family in Bhakatpara village of Chapar under Dhubri district.[5][6] He belongs to a farmer family.[7] Sinha started schooling from his village school.[7] For secondary education, he attended a High school in Bilasipara known as indra narayan academy higher secondary school, some 25 km from his home, a distance what he covered daily on foot or by bicycle.[7][8] Sinha's father, Lalsingh Sinha ensured that his son always carried his slate and pencil while accompanying him to the paddy fields. Sinha learnt his arithmetic tables by counting his and his father's footsteps to the weekly village market. “Sometimes he would ask me to multiply the footsteps, sometimes divide,” Sinha had said, recalling his childhood in a lengthy interview with All India Radio, Guwahati.[3]

He received his bachelor's degree from the Cotton College, Guwahati and subsequently moved to Banaras Hindu University for law education.[7] After getting a law degree, Sinha came back to Guwahati and practised law for a short period and then switched to school teachings. Sinha began his career as a science teacher in a rural school after quitting his MSc in Kolkata in 1940. He was a true Gandhian who wore khadi, and taught his students the art of making paper from straw, and was later in different positions from assistant teacher to headmaster in Dhubri district.[7][8]

Political career[edit]

Sinha entered politics rather by accident. He was elected to the Dhubri local board in 1945 and was later taken to Guwahati by veteran Congress leader Mahendra Mohan Choudhury (who later served as Chief Minister of Assam), who then got him a Congress ticket to contest the state Assembly election of 1946. The party had given him Rs 750 as election campaign expenses, but on completion of the campaign, he duly went and returned Rs 250 that remained unspent. He was elected to Assam Legislative assembly four times from Bilasipara east constituency in 1946–52, 1962–67, 1972–78 and 1985–90.[9][10]

Chief Ministership[edit]


He was first made an interim Chief Minister in 1972 by Indira Gandhi and subsequently became an elected chief minister and served till 1978.[7] He also served the Congress Party in various positions and capacities like the general secretary, vice-president, and president. However, he later joined Indian National Congress (Socialist) after the emergency era which was imposed by Indira Gandhi and became the national president of it in 1987.

Sinha faced some challenging task in his tenure of chief minister-ship like shifting the state capital from Shillong to Dispur, when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam along with Shillong and the language agitation in 1972, which rocked the state, a demand for the introduction of Assamese as the sole medium of instruction in Assam.[7] He engaged unemployed local youth in the construction work of temporary Capital at Dispur. He took the decision to strengthen the Public Distribution System as a result 13,615 Nos. of Fair Price shop were established in Assam. Through these Shops, essential commodities were distributed among the weaker section of the people. He also distributed land to the landless people and help a lot to get bank loan for cultivation. He also started medium irrigation system like Kaldiya, Dekadang, Bardikariya, Jojloi Gaon, Kolong river irrigation scheme etc. In his regime power project in Assam increased up to 43 per cent due to establishment of Boanigaon, Kapili, Lakuwa, Longpi, Bongaigaon thermal project.[11]

He was instrumental in setting up the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital and Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited.[12][13] He believed in decentralisation of power and introduced Panchayati Raj in the State for the welfare of the backward communities. He also sowed the seeds of the cooperative movement in Assam to boost State's economy.

First Motion of No-Confidence[edit]

The main grounds on which Gaurisankar Bhattacharyya tabled a No-confidence Motion against the Government of Sinha were: 1. profession and practice of the Government had proved to be diametrically opposite; 2. the basic necessities of life had not been assured to the masses; 3. the problem of unemployment had become more acute; 4. prices of essential commodities had risen to unprecedented and spiralling heights; (v) abuse of official positions for securing pecuniary and other benefits; 5. misappropriation of funds of the State; and (vi) maladministration in matters of public services. Leave to move the motion was granted on 29 November 1973. Seven members took part in the discussion held on 4 and 5 December 1973.[14]

Initiating the debate on 4 December 1973, Shri Gaurisankar Bhattacharyya said the people had voted the Ministry to power with an overwhelming majority But their hopes and aspirations proved to be short-lived. He cited examples of the Government's wrong policies and failure to remove poverty. Bhattacharyya also gave examples of how Calcutta had gained from the oil company and tea industry situated in Assam, thereby resulting in heavy losses to the State exchequer. He further alleged that the Government had cut down expenditure in the important fields of social welfare and had lost its credibility. The education policy of the Government had not helped the people at all and several anomalies were found in the education system. Healso referred to the growing unemployment problem and demanded 80 per cent reservation in the Government and semi-Government jobs for the local people. He further alleged that the Government's policy for the eradication of corruption was far from satisfactory.[14]

Replying to the debate, Sinha explained in detail about the cooperative movement and said that the entire State had been uniformly divided into 663 societies and about 30 lakh families were represented in the cooperatives. He further said that power would be decentralised at the sub divisional level and the cropping pattern would also be changed. Referring to tea estates, he said that in pursuance of the resolution passed by the House that the ownership of the tea gardens in the State should be taken over, a Committee had been constituted to examine the feasibility of the proposal. He conceded that agricultural income had not increased in the same proportion as industrial income. It was easy to develop industries faster than agriculture, because within the limited resources, agricultural income could be increased to a certain extent. He refuted the allegation that the Government had not taken any action on the PWD corruption case and said that departmental proceedings against three officers were in progress.[14]

The motion was negatived by voice vote.[14]

Second Motion of No-Confidence[edit]

On 18 September 1974, Shri Gaurisankar Bhattacharyya (CPI) moved the second Motion of No-confidence against Shri Sarat Chandra Sinha's Cabinet on the grounds of the general failure of the administration on different fronts, particularly in the food front which had led to farnine and near famine conditions causing starvation deaths in different parts of the State. Leave of the House was granted on 16 September 1974. The debate on the motion lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes spanning two days in which 28 members participated. Moving the motion, Gaurisankar Bhattacharyya charged that the administration of the Government was an offensive one; the Government machinery was corrupt and antipathic to the people. Referring to the sufferings of the people during floods, he said that although newspapers were giving vivid and graphic descriptions of starvation deaths, the Government denied this and attributed the death to malnutrition or some disease. He said that all development programmes were directed for the benefit of the elite class. Quoting statistics from the Government documents, he criticised the Government for destroying the financial resources and bringing not only financial ruin but bankruptcy. He also levelled charges of misuse of raw materials procured for pipes and fittings in North Cachar.[14]

In his reply, Sinha read out the letter requesting the Government of India to allot raw material to the Government of Assam for meeting the demand of pipes and fittings for North Cachar Hills District Council, Haflong and said precautionary measures had been taken to prevent any misuse of raw materials. If there was any such misuse of raw material, the Government would definitely make an inquiry and necessary action would be taken against the concerned party.

The motion put to vote on 19 September 1974 was negatived with 13 members voting in favour and 78 members voting against it.

Third Motion of No-Confidence[edit]

The third Motion of No confidence against the Ministry of Sinha was moved on 1 November 1977. Leave to move the motion was granted on 31 October 1977. The debate on the motion was held for 3 days. Moving the motion, Gaurisankar Bhattacharyya alleged that Sinha had joined the procession on 9 October in the streets of Guwahati demanding curbing of price rise, resignation of the Union Home Minister, Shri Charan Singh, stopping of atrocities on Harijans and undemocratic activities of the Janata Government. He wondered if Sinha, who was also the Home Minister of the State, behaved in this manner whether that amounted to inciting lawlessness or rebellion. He accused that the Goverrument had not utilised 13 cores of rupees given for fighting floods and extending relief to the people and was misusing it for political and party purposes.[14]

Replying to the debate on 3 November 1977, Sinha thanked the centre for conceding to the State's point of view on the matter of grants and said that there was a financial relation between a State and the centre and under that relationship, the centre was certainly under obligation to help the State. If any help comes, that should not be construed as favour from the centre. Whatever was due must be paid to the State. He denied the charge that the financial position of the State was weak and said that because of economic discipline introduced in 1972, there was no overdraft problem and the ways and means position had improved considerably.[14]

The motion was negatived with 22 members voting in favour and 68 members voting against and 4 members abstaining.

Post-Chief Ministership[edit]

When Sharad Pawar left the Congress to form the Nationalist Congress Party, he joined him and led the party in Assam till his death.[7][15]

He attended literary discussion at the age of 90, drama workshop, dharna, hunger strike or trade union meeting.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Sinha was married to his wife, Labanya, and they had three sons and three daughters. His eldest son died before him.[7] His wife, Labanya Sinha, died on 21 September 2017, aged 89, Beltola, after being unwell for several days. Several political leaders including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal paid tribute to her.[16][17]

Death and funeral[edit]

On 24 December 2005, Sinha was admitted to Gauhati Medical College, after he had a fever and was being treated for renal failure. After his condition deteriorated in the night, he was shifted to the ICU. On 25 December, at 1.30 AM, Sinha died due to old-age ailments, a week before his 92nd birthday.[18][19][8][20] The government declared three days of official mourning for Sinha. He was cremated with full state honours at the Nabagraha crematorium in the city.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi was among the first to reach Sinha's residence at Beltola to pay tribute. He described the Sinha's death as "the end of a political era." Leader of the Opposition Brindaban Goswami described Sinha as "an idealist and an exemplary leader who led his life with moral conviction and simplicity."


On 28 September 2020, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday unveiled a life-size statue of Sinha at Ratnapith College at Chapar in Dhubri district. Sonowal also inaugurated a complex consisting of a memorial garden in the name of Sarat Chandra Sinha, an auditorium, stage and a renovated house of Sinha. Sonowal said that Sinha was "an embodiment of truth, honesty, simplicity and dedication."[21][22]


  1. ^ "Assam Legislative Assembly - Chief Ministers since 1937". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Sarat Chandra Sinha dead". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Polls ahead, why an Assam CM from 40 years ago is relevant again". The Indian Express. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  4. ^ Gupta, Shekhar (17 July 2013). "The agitation is over. It is dead and gone: Sarat Chandra Sinha". India Today. Retrieved 2 March 2022.
  5. ^ Das, Samir Kumar (2018). Migrations, Identities and Democratic Practices in India. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781351175241. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  6. ^ Capt. Nalini Ranjan Ray. Koch Rajbanshi And Kamatapur The Truth. Unveiled ( 2007). p. 110. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sarat Chandra Sinha dead". Outlook. 25 December 2005. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Sarat Chandra Sinha dead". Outlook. PTI. 25 December 2005. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  9. ^ Desk, Sentinel Digital (27 December 2017). "Sarat Chandra Singha remembered - Sentinelassam". The Sentinel. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Assam Tribune. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Sinha ministry" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  12. ^ "About". Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Assam: Golden jubilee celebrations of Bongaigaon refinery begins". NORTHEAST NOW. 19 January 2022. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Malhotra, G. C. (2004). Cabinet Responsibility to Legislature: Motions of Confidence and No-confidence in Lok Sabha and State Legislatures. Lok Sabha Secretariat. ISBN 978-81-200-0400-9.
  15. ^ "tribuneindia...Spotlight". 11 June 1999. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Sarat Sinha's wife passes away". The Sentinel. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Know your DAY". The Assam Tribune. 9 February 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  18. ^ "Ex- Assam CM Sarat Chandra Sinha dead | States News". Zee News. 25 December 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Barefoot CM walks out on life - Gogoi leads Assam in mourning Sarat Sinha". Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Obituary - Press Release, Prime Minister's Office". Retrieved 25 June 2017.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Sonowal unveils statue, renovated house of former Assam CM Sarat Chandra Sinha". 28 September 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  22. ^ News, Ne Now (28 September 2020). "Sarat Chandra Sinha was an embodiment of truth, honesty and simplicity: Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal". NORTHEAST NOW. Retrieved 22 May 2022. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)