BHULABHAI DESAI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography


BHULABHAI DESAI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

BHULABHAI DESAI -Indian Freedom Fighters Biography

Bhulabhai Desai, a lawyer politician, was born on October 13, 1877 in Valsad, Gujarat. Being the only child of his parents, Bhulabhai was pampered a great deal.

Initially Bhulabhai was schooled by his maternal uncle. Later, he studied at the Avabai School in Valsad and the Bharada High School in Bombay from where he matriculated in 1895, standing first in his school. He then joined the Elphinstone College in Bombay from where he graduated in high standing in English Literature and History. He won the Wordsworth Prize and a scholarship for standing first in History and Political Economy. He did his M.A. in English from the University of Bombay. Bhulabhai was appointed Professor of English and History in the Gujarat College, Ahmedabad. While teaching he also studied Law.

Bhulabhai Desai was enrolled as an advocate at the Bombay High Court in 1905. He made a mark in the legal profession with his thorough knowledge of legal principles, competence, hard work and persuasive handling of cases. His fluent speech, quick grasp, sharp memory and cheerful temperament contributed to his professional success.

Bhulabhai began his political career in Annie Besant's Home Rule League. He then joined the Liberal Party and remained with it for many years. He opposed the all-white Simon Commission in 1928 by the British Government.

Bhulabhai Desai formally joined the Congress in 1930 after resigning from the Liberal Party. Convinced about the effectiveness of boycott of foreign goods for furthering the struggle, Bhulabhai formed the Swadeshi Sabha and persuaded 80 textile mills to join in. The Sabha was soon declared illegal and Bhulabhai was arrested in 1932 for his activities in the Sabha.

While in jail, Bhulabhai Desai was constantly ill. On his release on health grounds, he went to Europe for treatment. Soon after his return, the Congress Working Committee was reorganized. At Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's insistence, Bhulabhai was included in the committee.

The Government of India Act of 1935, which allowed provincial autonomy, raised the question whether the Congress should participate in the local legislatures. Bhulabhai among others supported Congress participation and this policy was accepted by the committee."

In November 1934, Bhulabhai Desai was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly from Gujarat. He carried out the difficult task as leader of his party with great skill, dignity and a sense of responsibility. Bhulabhai Desai considered it important to use the Central Assembly to clarify to the world about the Congress attitude."

He participated in the Individual Satyagraha Gandhiji started as a protest. He was arrested on December 10,1940, under the Defence of India Act and sent to Yeravada jail. He was released from prison in September 1941 on grounds of poor health.

At the end of World War II, the British Government in India decided to try three captured Indian National Army (INA) officers, Shah Nawaz Khan, P. K. Sehgal and G. S. Dhillon of treason against the British Crown. Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, leader of the INA succumbed to injuries when his plane crashed while taking off from Taipei on August 17, 1945. The Congress formed a Defence Committee comprised of 17 advocates including Jawaharlal Nehru, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Sardar Patel and Bhulabhai Desai. The court martial hearing began in October 1945 at the Red Fort. Bhulabhai was the leading counsel for the defense. Undeterred by bad health, Bhulabhai made the most effective argument in defence of the charged soldiers. This case is popularly known as Lal Quila Trial in the Indian History.

The nation was overwhelmed with Desai's historic defence. He was given a hero's welcome on his return to Bombay.


Bhulabhai Desai died on May 6, 1946. His immense wealth led to the creation of the Bhulabhai Memorial Institute. 

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