Gopinath Bordoloi (1890 – 1950) was the first Chief Minister of the Indian state of Assam, and also a leading Indian independence activist. He was a follower of the Gandhian principle of non violence as a political tool.
He graduated from the renowned Scottish Church College, Calcutta. Thereafter he joined the Indian National Congress as a volunteer. After rising through Congress ranks in the 1930s, Bordoloi’s biggest political battle came in 1946-47, when the then Undivided Bengal‘s Muslim majority politicians (mostly belonging to the Muslim League) wanted to include the overwhelmingly Hindu Assam into the Muslim-majority East Pakistan. Organizing protests and engaging with the colonial government at the highest level prevented mass communal riots in Assam and allowed for it to preserve its territorial integrity within the Union of India.
After India’s Independence, he worked closely with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to secure the sovereignty of Assam against China on the one hand and East Pakistan on the other. He also helped to organize the rehabilitation of millions of Hindu refugees who had fled East Pakistan due to widespread violence and intimidation in the aftermath of Partition. His work formed the basis for ensuring communal harmony, democracy and stability which effectively kept Assam secure and progressive right up to the 1971 war over East Pakistan’s independence. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1999.