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Sadullah The Statesman

Sadullah started his career as a lecturer of Cotton College at Guwahati. But he left the job within a short time and began legal practice at Guwahati. Then he joined politics and became the member of the first Legislative Council in 1913. He was minister of education and agriculture from 1924 to 1926 and of finance and law and order from 1926 to 1929. In 1928 the British government knighted him in recognition of his public services. 

In April 1929, Sadullah was appointed the member of the Assam Legislative Council. After completion of his term of office on March 31, 1934, he went to Calcutta and took up legal practice at Calcutta High Court.

In 1937, Assam Legislative Assembly election was held under the Government of India Act 1935. After the election Governor Michael Keara wrote to Sadullah seeking his help in installing a government. Sadullah agreed to help him in the interest of his state. In the meantime, Robert Ride became the governor of Assam and wrote to Sadullah thus: "As far as I can judge with my extremely limited knowledge of Assam, it would appear that you are the only individual to whom best applies the wording of the Instrument of Instructions as one who is most likely to command a stable majority in the legislature. I write, therefore, to enquire whether you will be willing, at a very early date, to come and see me at Shillong with a view to assisting in forming a council of ministers".

Sadullah was well-known for his generosity, honesty and ability. He was a matured, widely respected and accepted political leader of his time. He was a friend and guide of the tribal people of North-east India. In his first cabinet itself, he included a tribal leader, J.J.M. Nichols Roy as one of his ministers. In their book, A Century of Government and Politics in North-East India, vol.I, Assam, V.V. Rao and N. Hazarika have rightly observed that Sadullah "was an outstanding personality both on account of his experience, ability and honesty. In fact, he was in a different class from any other politician in Assam".

Sadullah was not only requested by the governor of Assam but also by all shades of politicians and people of the state to come back to Assam and form a stable government. Overwhelmed by such requests, he came over to Shillong and met the governor on March 15, 1937. Governor Robert Reid requested him to form the government. After necessary negotiations and consultation with all political parties willing to form government in the state and participate in it, Sadullah constituted a five-member ministry headed by him on April 1, 1937. Since then he continued to be the premier of Assam till February 11, 1946 with a break of about eighteen months. As a premier he inherited the problem of settlement of the local people and the migrants from outside Assam on the waste land of the state from the British administration. The issue of land settlement dominated the entire tenure of his office. 

When Sadullah had to resign on September 13, 1938 as the majority of the members of the assembly went against his ministry because of his two recalcitrant ministers, he advised the governor to give the opposition leader Gopinath Bordoli a chance to form the government. Such was the nobility and magnanimity of Sir Sadullah.

Hasibor Rahman

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