- It is indeed an occasion of great joy that the Nehru Memorial Library is observing the “Balidaan Divas” (Martyrdom Day) of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. That day, 23rd June, has already passed but the memory of his sacrifice is always there in our mind.
To observe the day, an exhibition along with an event, based on the life of Dr. Mookerjee, have been planned today. I am really thankful to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library from the core of my heart for organising this memorable day.
I am not here in the capacity of the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. I am driven by my reverence for Dr. Mookerjee, who was the founding President of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Today the same Bharatiya Jana Sangh continues to function as Bharatiya Janata Party.
As the president of BJP I am here to talk about the injustice done by history by not recognizing great deeds and sacrifice of such an eminent and selfless patriot as Dr. Mookerjee. He was a man of high morality, a man of great values and an extraordinary educationist. He was never attached to any post or to any materialistic things. Yet history did not do justice to such a pure soul, one who never hesitated to renounce all power and political at his command, if he felt that renunciation to be the only way forward leading to the betterment of the country and of his countrymen. Dr. Mookerjee always staked everything for the integrity and unity of this country.
My dear friends, I am here to talk about that stalwart Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a multifaceted personality. Even if we wish to know about any one side of his personality, it may take hours. It is impossible to describe a man, such as him, with a personality with innumerable dimensions, in just fifteen minutes.
Even if we talk about his determination, his deeds, sacrifices for the country, it will take hours. There are many aspects of his life but I have been given only fifteen minutes, and it will take fifteen minutes for me to discuss a single aspect of his life. However, keeping the schedule of this institution in mind, I will say few things pertaining to all the dimensions of his life and personality.
Dr. Mookerjee was a man of versatile talent. He became a Barrister at an early age, then Vice-Chancellor and promoted Bengali as a medium of instruction – these are a few of his achievements.
Here, I wish to focus on the three most important aspects for which Dr. Mookerjee will be remembered in future by the people of India. When a selfless person is in the process of performing his duty, he does not know and nor does he care about how history will evaluate his performance, especially personalities like Dr. Mookerjee who had been selfless throughout his life and never cared for his own name and fame.
Dr. Mookerjee’s principles and thoughts were beyond any personal ambition. He always thought for his country, lived for his country and finally died for his country. He took decisions, fearlessly in order to solve the contemporary problems of this country. The responsibility, thus, of projecting a real patriot rests with contemporary historians.
These historians must be free from prejudice, biased opinion and free from any thoughts based on caste, creed, religion, party and fundamentalism. Unfortunately, biased historians manipulated the history of this country merely for the sake of their self interest. At first it was torn apart and distorted by Britishers and thereafter by Leftists. Both colonial historians and Marxist historians have distorted Indian history. It is because of such a distortion that Mookerjee could not get his due place in the history of this country, a place which has richly deserved. This denial, I believe, is an unforgivable sin.
The three most important contributions of Dr. Mookerjee which I wish to talk about were the partition of Bengal, the founding of Jana Sangh and the agitation to solve the Kashmir problem. These three are so important interventions that they changed course of the history of our country.
To oppose the Bengal partition there was a major agitation. It is known to very few people that there was an agitation to actually divide Bengal. If that agitation had not had happened, today Kolkata would not have been part of India.
In 1946, when the Labour Party came into power in Britain it was decided that India should be granted independence. In the beginning there was no demand for partition, both Muslim League and the Congress accepted the reality of one India. But with the passage of time circumstances evolved which compelled the division of India. However, the then Congress leadership could have avoided this partition. When India got divided the leadership of the country developed a major principle that whichever state has majority of any community (Hindu or Muslim) it would be included or made part of accordingly of that country. No the country was ever divided based on the idea of religion, but in India partition was accepted on the basis of religion. It was absolutely a hastily taken decision.
In two provinces of the country where the Muslims were in majority but the Hindus too were in good numbers, the kind of atmosphere which was created at that time, it appeared that we would lose both Bengal and Punjab in their entirety. Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee convened a great conference of Bengali intellectuals and members of the Bengali Hindu intelligentsia and proposed that Bengal be divided on the basis of East and West Bengal. He asked to deliberate on this. His intention was not to let the whole of Bengal to go to Pakistan. In order to do this he called this three day conference and as a result it mobilized public opinion, especially of youth.
The leading daily Amrita Bazar Patrika conducted a survey and the conclusion of the survey was that 98.99 percent people of Bengal wanted a division of Bengal. This decision was accepted and Bengal was divided. Thus Syama Prasad Mookerjee could save a part of Bengal from going to Pakistan.
He met Mountbatten, Gandhiji and many other Congress leaders to present the interests of Hindus before them. It is an outcome of his efforts that Kolkata is part of India and the credit goes to only one person, and it is none other than Syama Prasad Mookerjee. It was he who had successfully kept Bengal united with India.
In that adverse situation many eminent leaders of the Congress were tempted to get the independence as soon as possible so that they could get their desired position before their death. But a very young leader like Dr. Mookerjee thought that one should not make this mistake and lose Bengal. Once again I want to highlight that the credit of keeping Bengal intact with India goes to Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
My dear Friends, when we got freedom it was a matter of concern as to who should be sent to the Constituent Assembly to represent Bengal. Even the leaders from the Congress suggested the name of Dr. Mookerjee. I want to remind you that he was then president of the Hindu Mahasabha and yet was the unanimous choice for the Constituent Assembly.
When government was formed it was a coalition government, a national government and one representative had to be taken from the Hindu Mahasabha. Dr. Mookerjee was given the responsibility of the Industry Ministry, and as Industry Minister he also performed his duty well. Being in the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru he worried about the future growth and prospect of the country.
Policies were being framed – foreign policy, economic policy, academic policy, agricultural policy and other important policies were being framed in that cabinet. But Dr. Mookerjee was uncomfortable and unhappy with the process of policy making because he felt that basis of all policies were influenced by western thought. He thought this was a blunder which would mislead our country. He believed that policies of this country should have the flavour of the soil and culture of this county, and must imbibe its Indian-ness in absolute terms. He believed that our philosophy must be reflected in our foreign and external policies and that the economic and agricultural policy of our country must be an example for the rest of the world.
He emphasized that the policies of our country should have the aroma of our own soil. It should not be imported from the west. When he saw that this was not happening it caused great discomfort to Dr. Mookerjee and almost everyday he had to face this disagreement with Nehru. Dr. Mookerjee said that, “The way our country is being governed I do not see prosperity for the country” in the future. So there was a clear difference between the thoughts of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and the thoughts of Pt. Nehru.
Once he was asked as to “what is the difference between the thoughts of the Congress and the Jana Sangh?” He replied in one line that the Congress wants to construct and create a new country with a new thought (Navnirmaan) while the Jana Sangh aspired to reconstruct (Punarnirmaan) the country inspired by its timeless culture, tradition and values. The Congress assumed that the history of this country would have to written anew and that there was no use of old values and culture. But Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and his friends believed that India can be recreated, rebuild on the basis of her culture and values.
Nehru came out with the proposal before the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Liakat Ali Khan for a solution for the minorities of eastern and western Pakistan. They were subjected to great atrocities in Pakistan; people were coming from East Pakistan to Tripura, Assam and West Bengal as refugees. They were being oppressed in Pakistan. Dr. Mookerjee wanted to raise this issue at a global platform and expose Pakistan but Pt. Nehru did not pay any attention to that point and signed an agreement with Liakat Ali, thinking that it would solve the problem of minorities once for all.
Dr. Mookerjee was deeply saddened on this agreement and he resigned from the Nehru cabinet.
Having left the cabinet of Pt. Nehru, Dr. Mookerjee travelled extensively across the country and tried to associate likeminded people with him. Having extensively discussed his new vision and proposal with a wide of people cutting across class, caste and religious divides Dr. Mookerjee decided to form a new political party which was named Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
Friends, when Bharatiya Jana Sangh was established in 1951 at Raghomal Kanya Vidyalaya here in Delhi, no one had ever thought and imagined that it was capable of coming to power even in a municipal corporation. Deendayal Upadhyay ji, Atal ji, Jagadish Prasad Mathur ji and our Malhotra ji – all them in their youth then had established the party.
Many youth came forward to form the party, but enjoying power was not their objective at that time. Pt. Nehru and the Congress were at their peak and uttering even a sentence against them was considered to be a crime. Who could have imagined that Jana Sangh would ever come to power, it was considered almost impossible.
Friends, this party was never established with the aim of enjoying power. Dr. Mookerjee had proposed an alternative politics, ideology and an alternative thinking that would inspire and guide policies and thinking. The hope was to see these policies come to fruition after five, ten, and twenty or fifty years, laying an alternate path to development and growth and also so that the country would know as to what had happened, where we had erred and what should be the next step forward. Jana Sangh was established for this purpose.
A large team was constituted under the leadership of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya to formulate a policy, to provide a practical structure for each original idea and finally a single humanitarian approach emerged, the approach of Integral Humanism.
Friends, the country would have suffered a lot had Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee not formed the Jana Sangh. The country cannot run on a single thought, it cannot function after giving up its ideology. This is India and she can never function or survive like those countries which are left without their history, language and culture. Had we not preserved and nurtured the languages of the people, their culture, music and history then we would have never been able to attain a respectable position in the world today and Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee achieved this by forming Jana Sangh.
The Jana Sangh which comprised of ten members at its founding is today the world’s largest political party with eleven crore members. I do not want to go into details of Bharatiya Janata Party but it is essential to mention this in order to explain the life of Syama Prasadji.
Friends, Dr. Mookerjee’s third contribution was to provide a different point of view to the Kashmir issue. After independence, when Maharaja Hari Singh was not sure whether Kashmir should go with Pakistan or India, at that time, the Pakistan army launched an attack with the help of tribal raiders and later on Hari Singh merged Kashmir with India. No one knows till date why all of a sudden, without any reason, a ceasefire was declared? No leader would have dared to commit such a historical blunder. Had Nehru not declared the ceasefire, the entire Kashmir would have remained with us. All of a sudden, a ceasefire was declared by Nehru, just to improve his personal image and prestige, due to which a major portion of Kashmir is still with Pakistan. Even after that, various types of rules and regulations were framed. I do not want to go into the details of Article 370 but there was a ruling according to which any person going to Kashmir had to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India.
Friends, Syama Prasadji immediately declared that this will not work. He argued that every citizen of India has the right to go to Kashmir without any restrictions and no one can stop them and he took the movement in his own hands.
“There cannot be two heads and two Constitutions in one country”, he said. At that time, the Chief Minister of Kashmir was known as the Prime Minister and the Governor of Kashmir was known as President and to this was added the issue of permit. This was explained in details by the Honourable Governor in his speech today, Dr. Mookerjee resolved to start a Satyagraha against this state of affairs. He went in a passenger train from here [Delhi]. If Syama Prasadji had to be arrested on charges of violating the permit system then he should have been arrested at the Kashmir border itself. If he had to be arrested on account of violating the permit then his custody should have been with the Indian police, but the custody was given to the Kashmir police.
He had been informed that he did not require a permit but he was arrested while crossing the Ravi river bridge saying that his presence in the state can pose law and order problems. He was arrested under this section due to which the custody was given to the Kashmir Police. I do not know why Syama Prasadji was given a waiver for the permit and why was he not arrested at the India-Kashmir border, why did not his custody remain with the Indian Police and after being taken into custody, why was such a tall leader taken from Jammu to Kashmir?
The Honourable Governor has used a very good word when he said that Dr. Mookerjee was kept in the “Safe house.” It was nothing of the kind, friends, I have seen that place; I have seen its photograph. It was simply a concrete hut which did not even have proper doors and windows. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was confined to such a congested place for many days. When his health deteriorated even then an ambulance was not called in. He was taken to the hospital in sitting position in a jeep and there he died under mysterious circumstances.
A very large section of our society feels that Syama Prasad Mookerjee was killed. Had this case been investigated then, the truth could have been made public. It is very unfortunate that the case was not investigated. But I also want to reiterate that the permit system was abolished from Kashmir only due to Syama Prasadji. The Indian flag is being hoisted there and the functionaries are known today as Chief Minister and Governor and not Prime Minister and President. If Kashmir is an integral part of India today and we have so much love for Kashmir, it is only because of the sacrifice of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. Kashmir is with us today only due to him.
This “Bengal Tiger” was a multi-dimensional personality. He was associated with Sri Aurobindo, became a successful lawyer after becoming a barrister, he also became President of the Hindu Mahasabha. Mahatma Gandhi, on hearing that he had joined the Hindu Mahasabha had publicly said that after Madan Mohan Malaviya, it is Syama Prasad only for whom Hindus have got such a great respect and that he was capable of leading them. Syama Prasad, in line with his nature, then said that now he would be known as follower of Manu. Gandhiji is then said to have replied, “That you will have to bear with it because no one else can provide true leadership to the Hindus except you”, such was his credibility, friends.
He did not know what will happen to the permit system after his demise, but just as Jatayu did not know that a powerful demon king, carrying Sita Devi away will kill him with his Chandrahaas sword. Although Jatayu was fully aware about the outcome of the battle but still he did not think twice in going ahead and trying to free Sita. Similarly, Syama Prasadji never thought of what would happen to him. He was convinced that these ideas and demands needed be put forth and the movement for Kashmir needed to be launched.
As long we have such leaders, no harm shall ever come to this country. He never cared about allegations from pseudo-secularists. He presented his ideas fearlessly in front of his audiences like a true leader. During those days, the Mahabodhi Society was formed by combining Burma, Sri Lanka and Tibet and Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was the non-Buddhist President of the Mahabodhi Society. Such a great persona met an untimely death. Had the duo of Syama Prasadji and Deendayalji lived for more years, we could have witnessed many changes in this country long ago, but their thoughts are still providing and inspiring guidance to this country.
A magnificent exhibition has been organized on the life of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee , the inspiring speech made by him in the Constituent Assembly has also been played, along with the letter written to Pt. Nehru by his mother, his photograph with Gandhiji, his photo as a Vice-Chancellor and many such valuable documents have also been displayed here.
I feel this exhibition will prove to be an excellent medium to know about Syama Prasadji and enlighten the paths and life of many workers and help them to evolve into fearless personalities.
I once again thank all staff and officers of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library from the core of my heart for organizing such a magnificent programme.