Delivering a riveting public address in Thiruvananthapuram on the occasion of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s martyrdom day on June 23, 2016, BJP president Amit Shah made an interesting observation. He said Dr Mookerjee made three epochal interventions in the history of modern India that altered the trajectory of the flow of national events for good.
The first was his intervention which ruptured Jinnah’s plan of greater Pakistan and the retaining of Calcutta and West Bengal in India as a place where the Bengali Hindus could live and also find refuge after being pushed out of East Pakistan. The second was the formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) as a nationalist alternative to the faction-ridden and Nehru-beholden Congress, which in the early days after Independence, especially after the demise of Sardar Patel, had begun degenerating into a one-man-driven sycophantic conglomerate. The third was Dr Mookerjee’s intervention in Kashmir which eventually ensured that the state remained an integral part of the India.
The question thus is had Dr Mookerjee not been there, or had not existed, what would have happened to India? The first of course is self-evident; the entire Bengal and Punjab would have gone to Pakistan. Over the years, jihad would have a larger area from which to breed and spread poison. The Bengali Hindus would have, without a home state, migrated to various parts of the country as a dispossessed people clinging to memories of a homeland and an identity. The Communists and Trinamool Congress would have no space or the luxury to practice their brand of violent and communal politics sans West Bengal.
Dr Mookerjee’s second intervention was when he created BJS, after realising early the dictatorial tendencies of the Congress leadership. “The mistaken policies and ‘Abharatiya’ and unrealistic approach to the national problems by the party in power,” argued the first manifesto of the BJS, “is primarily responsible for this state of affairs in the country. In their anxiety to make Bharat a carbon-copy of the West, they have ignored and neglected the best in Bharatiya life and ideals. They have failed to harness the enthusiasm created by freedom to the task of realisation of the great potentialities of the country.” Had Dr Mookerjee not created BJS, Congress unilateralism would have dominated; it would have pushed India into a one-party or one-family rule and led to a chaotic situation with increased fissiparous tendencies. Had Dr Mookerjee not initiated this move, Indian democracy would have been poorer, with little options and voices facing an embargo put by a spirit of political intolerance.
Dr Mookerjee’s last intervention was in the affairs of Jammu & Kashmir which, he argued, had to be more completely integrated to ensure India’s well-being and her security and integrity. The sovereignty of Indian Parliament and the Constitution, Dr Mookerjee felt, was to be paramount and the benefit of the Constitution had to reach all citizens. Had he not made this final—and for him fatal because he never emerged out it alive—intervention, the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir would have perhaps gone into the control of those forces who wish to see India fragmented. It would have become the cockpit of terror.
Had Dr Mookerjee not existed, India would have been afflicted with all of these and more. His death and birth anniversaries, thus, offer an occasion to reflect on that question.
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Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation