In 1920, he joined the Non-cooperation movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi and was jailed for a year in this connection. Thereafter, Gopinath took up the banner of revolt against the British in the state and soon became the foremost congress leader in the state. In 1934, he was elected as the Chairman of Guwahati Municipality, a task he performed with remarkable success and distinction. In 1937, the congress under his leadership won the election and he became state’s first Chief Minister. In 1942, he resigned from his post at the call of Indian National Congress in the wake of ‘Quit India Movement’ He played a significant role in this movement of 1942 in the state, for which he was put behind the bars up to the year 1945. Once again he took up the reigns of administration as state’s Chief Minister in 1946 and continued to hold the post even after the dawn of independence, thus becoming the first Chief Minister of Free Assam.
Gopinath Bordoloi had a long inning as a public servant and contributed much to the development of the state. He had to build the state from the scratch and scars of partition. Communal violence, economic backwardness, abject poverty, Hindu-Muslim strife, poor infrastructure, backless industrial sector and an impoverished economy were all that he inherited from the British at the dawn of independence. But within a short time he was able to set the state on rail.
Peace was restored, social harmony was established, industrial and agricultural sectors were revitalised and state’s economy was overhauled. The credit of establishing Kamrup Academy, B. Baruah College, Guwahati University, Agricultural college, Veterinary college, Radio station, High Court, Police Training College etc. in the state goes to him. His noble contributions won people’s love and esteem. Therefore he came to be called’ Lokpriya (beloved of people). No wonder his death on 5th Aug. 1950 was mourned by one and all in the state.
The Govt, of India by recognising his great contributions awarded him Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in 1999. The credit of laying the foundation of modern Assam and nurturing it during its infancy goes to Gopinath Bordoloi. With his death in 1950 the state lost a veteran political leader, a pioneer of freedom movement and a patriot who lived and died for his motherland and state.
Gopinath Bordoloi would continue to remain as one of the most illustrious sons ever produced by Assam.