Personality

A Brief Note on Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was born in a Bengali family on 6 July 1901 in Calcutta (Kolkata). His father was Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was a judge of the honourable High Court of Judicature at Fort William and also served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta.

He attended Mitra Institution in Bhawanipore from where he passed his Matriculation examination in 1917. After that, he enrolled at the Presidency College, Calcutta from where he passed B.A. in 1921 with first class first in English Honors. His father wanted him, son, to get his education in the vernacular language and thus Syama Prasad was persuaded by Ashutosh to take up Bengali Language and Literature from Calcutta University. He completed his M.A. in 1923. Being a brilliant student he went on to pursue a legal career in his father’s footsteps. He went to England to study to become a barrister though he plunged head-on into politics on his return to India. In 1934 he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta, a post he held till 1938. At the age of 33, he was the youngest ever Vice Chancellor of the University but his young age never deterred him from doing the best he could for the upliftment of the masses through the services of the University. Syama Prasad Mookerjee made the start of his political career in a small way in 1929, when he entered the Bengal Legislative Council, BLC as a Congress candidate representing Calcutta University. Post-Independence PM Jawahar Lal Nehru gave him a ministerial post in Interim Central Government as a Minister for Industry and Supply. On the issue 1950 Delhi Pact with Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Syama Prasad Mookerjee resigned from the Central Govt Cabinet on 6 April 1950. The pact proposed to establish minority commissions and guarantee minority rights in both countries. He felt the need for a new, more democratic party and thus founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh party. Mukherjee was completely against Nehru’s invitation to the Pak PM. After having a tiff with PM Jawahar Lal Nehru and consultation with Golwalkar of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh on 21 October 1951 in Delhi and he became its first President. Later it gets evolved into BJP. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was a fearless and outspoken Indian politician who was very expressive about his thoughts and what he believed to be correct. To voice his opposition regarding Article 370 Syama Prasad Mukherjee turned outside Parliament and on Kashmir, he termed the arrangement under Article 370 (Special status for Jammu & Kashmir) as the Balkanisation of India and the three-nation theory of Sheikh Abdullah. Bharatiya Jana Sangh along with Hindu Mahasabha and Ram Rajya Parishad launched a massive Satyagraha to get removed the pernicious provisions. Along with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Mukherjee is considered the godfather of Hindu nationalism in India, especially the Hindutva movement. He fought a lot to secure the rights of the Hindus community. In 1922 he married Sudha Devi, daughter of Dr Benimadhav Chakravarty. He was married for 11 years and had five children – the last one, a four-month-old son, died from diphtheria. His wife Sudha Devi died of pneumonia shortly afterwards. In 1953, to protest against the special status given to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, he tried to enter the state, where he was arrested and jailed in a dilapidated house. Syama Prasad Mookerjee died on 23 June 1953 in hospital after he suffered dry pleurisy and coronary troubles. His death in custody raised wide suspicion across India and people demanded an independent enquiry, including earnest requests from his mother, Jogamaya Devi, to Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru declared that he had inquired from a number of persons who were privy to the facts and, as per him, there was no mystery behind Syama Prasad Mukherjee’s death.