Many death anniversaries are celebrated in the country every year. However, those pious souls are very fortunate, at whose supporters or ideals make their “sacrifice” meaningful. Syama Prasad Mookerjee is one such supreme pious soul, who sacrificed his life on June 23, 1953, for the cause of a united India. From the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) to now in the BJP, June 23 has had been celebrated not just as the death anniversary of Mookerjee, but also as a day of resolution to abrogate Article 370 from the Constitution. In every manifesto, the declaration of Mookerjee to abrogate the temporary Article 370 was affirmed. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had travelled with Murli Manohar Joshi and hoisted the tricolour at the Lal Chowk of Srinagar, Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019. Home Minister Amit Shah worked as a true patriot in passing the Bill in both the Houses of Parliament.
Mookerjee made a significant contribution in the fields of education, politics, society and culture. He became a member of the Bengal Legislative Council in 1929, and was the youngest Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta from 1934 to 1938. Later, he became the finance minister of the Province of Bengal, and was subsequently elected the national president of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, the Mahabodhi Society and the Royal Asiatic Society. Mookerjee was also a member of the Constituent Assembly. He got the opportunity to serve the country as a minister in the first cabinet of independent India. In the first general election, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from South Calcutta.
Mookerjee did not want that Partition should happen. For this, he went to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji said the Congress did not listen to him. Nehru was also in favour of Partition. When it became inevitable, Mookerjee pledged to ensure that the interests of the Hindus of Bengal were not neglected. His efforts ensured that the Muslim League’s plan to annex the entire province could not succeed.
Due to Nehru’s disregard for the displaced and his own commitment to national interests, Mookerjee resigned from the Union Cabinet on April 8, 1950. He believed that the Nehru-Liaquat agreement was meaningless as it entrusted the responsibility of protecting the interests of minorities on the Indian government, but no such initiative was taken by Pakistan. After resigning from the Nehru cabinet, Mookerjee explored the possibility of forming a political party. He met with the second sarsanghchalak (chief) of the RSS, M S Golwalkar (Guruji), and urged him to establish the BJS. Guruji freed eight pracharaks, and this is where the work of BJS started with the mission of correcting the mistakes of Nehru. The BJS was founded on October 21, 1951, and Mookerjee became its founding president.
The BJS won three Lok Sabha seats in the first general election, held from October 25, 1951, to February 21, 1952. Mookerjee was one of the three MPs. He attacked Nehru’s policies in Parliament. During a debate in the House, Nehru once pointed to Mookerjee and said, “Jana Sangh is a communal party, I will crush the Jana Sangh”. Mookerjee replied, “My friend Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru says that he will crush Jana Sangh, I say I will crush this crushing mentality.”
Even though the problem of Kashmir’s special status became visible to the people later, Mookerjee understood its seriousness from the beginning. His speeches in the Lok Sabha in 1952 make it clear that what happened later in Kashmir — terrorism, atrocities and the exodus of Hindus — had been foretold. The separatist tendencies that emerged from Sheikh Abdullah’s political activities had begun to take hold by 1952. Due to this, the national mind was disturbed. Mookerjee fully supported the satyagraha of the Praja Parishad, which aimed to make J&K an integral part of India. In support, he raised a strong slogan: “Two flags in one country, two legislations in one country, two heads in one country, unacceptable, unacceptable” (Ek desh mein do nishan, ek desh mein do vidhan, ek desh mein do pradhan, nahi chalenge, nahi chalenge). At a massive rally in Jammu in August 1952, he expressed his resolve: “Either I will get you the Indian Constitution or I will sacrifice my life for the purpose”.
To fulfil his resolve, Mookerjee decided to challenge the Nehru government in New Delhi and Abdullah’s government in Srinagar. In May 1953, he set out on a trip to J&K to study the situation there. In those days, permits had to be obtained for entry into J&K. When he was asked for a permit, he said, “I am a member of the Parliament of India, I will not take a permit in Kashmir in my own country”. He was put under house arrest. For 40 days, neither medical care nor other basic facilities were provided. He died on June 23 under mysterious circumstances. To realise his resolve, Mookerjee sacrificed his life for the motherland. At his funeral in Kolkata, over two lakh people gathered to pay tribute. Mookerjee’s resolve became the resolution of the nation. His sacrifice became the vow to abolish Article 370.
The 70-year-old mission was achieved by the Modi government within 70 days of its second term. Mookerjee was the first Indian to sacrifice his life for Jammu and Kashmir. June 23, the day of supreme sacrifice, should be observed in the country as Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Pradhan Day. With this, the nation will not only remember him on his sacrifice every year, the spirit of national unity and integrity will also be strengthened.
This article first appeared in the print edition on June 23, 2020 under the title “An indomitable resolve”. The writer is national vice-president, BJP and a former Rajya Sabha MP
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines