Unsung hero : Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee

By : Rajiv Tuli (The writer is a member of the working committee of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Delhi.)

Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee is the founder of Bhartiya Jan Sangh, which later gave birth to Bhartiya Janata Party. He was born on July 6, 1901 in Kolkata. His father Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was a renowned Educationist. Hie mother was Jogmaya Devi. Umaprasad Mukherjee was his younger brother. Dr Mukherjee passed matric in 1917 and got his BA degree in 1921. After that he passed MA in first class in Bengali subject. After getting his law degree in 1923 he went abroad and returned as a barrister in 1926. After the death of his father in 1924 he registered in Calcutta High Court for practice. Following his father’s footsteps he achieved a lot in the field of education in very short span of time. Only at the age of 33 he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University. He was the youngest to reach this post. Dr Mukherjee was on this post till 1938. In 1937, he invited Guru Rabindranath Tagore to the convocation ceremony of Calcutta university for speech in Bangla language. It was the first time for any university in India when convocation speech was delivers in an Indian language.

The political aspect of his life is discussed everywhere today. He has also done phenomenal work as the Vice Chancellor if a university. An inspiration from him led to the publication of Bengali dictionary of scientific words. A special scheme was launched yo train students for civil services. Calcutta University launched a scheme for Agriculture education without any help from government. For the first time university started a diploma in agriculture.

During his tenure as VC, for the first time college code and new matriculation regulations were finalised. Age restrictions on students were removed. He was attracted to the concept of military training to students. Despite multiple hurdles he was successful in starting a military training course. In the prevailing circumstances it was no small achievement. Betterment of country on a large scale and betterment of younger generation were always his guiding principles. For students coming from weaker sections, he ensured every arrangement from lodging to fooding was made in the general hostels.

Article 370 was scrapped recently. He struggled hard all his life for its revocation. He strongly opposed the non implemantation of Indian Constitution in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. He continuously wrote letters to then ruler of Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah and then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. But because of Sheikh’s and Nehru’s stubbornness, no solution was found. He tried for a round table conference to discuss the issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmiri. He believed Jammu and Kashmir should be treated like any other state of India. He strongly opposed the seperate flag, prime minister and constitution for Jammu and Kashmir. He also did not like that chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was called the prime minister. He strongly advocated in the Lok Sabha fir the revocation of Article 370. It was first time in the country he announced his intentions to go to Jammu and Kashmir to take this movement forward. He boarded a passenger train at 6:30 AM with his supporters in Delhi on May 8,1953 for Jammu and Kashmiri. Balraj Madhok, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Tekchand, Gurudutt and some journalists were traveling with him. He was arrested in Lakhanpur on May 11, 1953. He was taken to central jail in Srinagar. Later on he was transferred to a small cottage in Srinagar. He died under mysterious circumstances on June 23, 1953. Even today people have doubts in their minds about his death. In 2004, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee termed his death “Nehru Conspiracy”. It is the high time to get death investigated to put doubts to end.

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