Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1901-1953)
Founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh
The BJP is the successor party of the BJS, which merged itself into the Janata Party in 1977. The BJP was formed as a separate party in 1980 after internal differences in the Janata Party resulted in the collapse of the Janata government in 1979.
A brief life-sketch
On hearing of her son’s untimely death, Dr. Mookerjee’s mother Jogmaya Debi exclaimed:
“Proudly do I feel that the loss of my son is a loss to Mother India!”
This brave son of India was born on July 6, 1901, to an illustrious family. His father Sir Asutosh was widely known in Bengal as an educationist and public intellectual. Graduating from Calcutta University, Dr. Mookerjee became a fellow of the Senate in 1923. He enrolled as an advocate in Calcutta High Court in 1924 after his father’s death. Subsequently he left for England in 1926, being called to the bar from Lincoln’s Inn in 1927. At the age of 33, he became the world’s youngest Vice-Chancellor at the Calcutta University and held the office till 1938. During his tenure, he introduced a number of constructive reforms and was active in the Asiatic Society as well as was a member of the Court and the Council of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Chairman of the Inter-University of Board.
He was elected as member of the Legislative Council of Bengal as a Congress candidate, representing Calcutta University, but resigned when the Congress decided to boycott the legislature. Subsequently, he contested the election as an independent and got elected.
Pandit Nehru inducted him in the Interim Government as Minister for Industry and Supply. Following the Delhi Pact between Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Dr. Mookerjee resigned from the Cabinet on April 6, 1950. After consultation with Shri Golwalkar Guruji of the RSS, Dr. Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh on October 21, 1951, in Delhi became its first President. In the 1951-52 election, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh won 3 seats in Parliament, one of them being that of Dr. Mookerjee. He then formed the National Democratic Party within the Parliament, as a coalition of 32 Lok Sabha MPs and 10 Rajya Sabha MPs.
Dr. Mookerjee was vociferous in the cause of the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. He termed the arrangement under Article 370 as Balkanisation of India. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh, along with the Hindu Mahasabha and the Ram Rajya Parishad, launched a satyagraha to have pernicious provisions related to Article 370 removed. Mookerjee went to visit Kashmir in 1953 and was arrested on May 11, 1953, while crossing into the state and breaching the infamous Permit System. He died while under arrest and held in difficult conditions, passing away on June 23, 1953.
A veteran politician, he was respected by his friends and foes alike for his knowledge and forthrightness. He outshone most Ministers in the cabinet with his erudition and learning. India lost a great son much too early.