Gautam Guha, Agami Kalarab: Shyama Prasad Mukherjee is an example of great leadership and political milestone. He was born on July 6, 1901. He would have preferred to spend a lifetime in the hallowed portal of goddess Saraswati. However, the perilous political situation in undivided Bengal in the late 1930s compelled him to pursue active politics. Over the ensuing 14 years, he came to occupy an important place in national politics, wrote the Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu in The Pioneer. At the age of 33, he became the youngest vice-chancellor of Calcutta University in 1934. Mookerjee demanded the partition of Bengal in 1946 to prevent the inclusion of its Hindu-majority areas in a Muslim-dominated East Pakistan. A meeting held by the Mahasabha on April 15, 1947, in Tarakeswar, authorised him to take steps for ensuring partition of Bengal. Dr Mukherjee is a most distinguished son of India. Not only did he serve as a Cabinet Minister in JLN’s first Cabinet, he had a long record of distinguished public service during freedom struggle prior to that. He had served as a minister in the Bengal government in 1937, and before that, for decades in the legislative assembly. His stint as the VC of Calcutta University is still remembered. Nehru was well aware of Mookerjee’s pro-Hindu leanings and association with the Hindu Mahasabha. But it was his ability and eminence that had ensured him a ministerial birth.
Mookerjee will always be remembered for integrating Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of India. He scripted an uprising with his famous slogan- “Ek desh mein do Pradhan, do Vidhan, do Nishan nahi chalenge, nahi chalenge”. (The country will never accept a system which allows two Prime Ministers, two Constitutions and two National flags). To protest against the dubious ‘permit raj’ in Jammu & Kashmir, Mookerjee went to Kashmir in 1953 as an Indian citizen without seeking any permission from the State Government. The idea was to prove the point that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and thus there is no need for an ‘entry permit’ for an Indian citizen. But, while crossing the border into Kashmir at Lakhaanpur, Mookerjee was arrested by the then Jammu & Kashmir Government and jailed in a dilapidated house. He was shifted from the Central Jail in Srinagar to a cottage in the outskirts and was in fact attended to by senior doctors. However, it may be argued that the state government could have treated an opponent with better care. A month after his arrest, his health worsened and the patriot died while in custody paying price for his effort to integrate India. Mookerjee’s mysterious death in custody raised resentment and suspicion. There were demands for independent enquiry, including earnest appeals from his aged mother Jogmaya Devi to then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. But unfortunately no inquiry commission was set by the Nehru government. The event became yet another chapter in history of mysterious political deaths in India. But Mookerjee’s martyrdom compelled the Nehru government to remove the ‘permit raj’, the post of Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister) and Sadr-e-Riyasat (President) in Jammu & Kashmir. His sacrifice forced the Indian government to bring Jammu & Kashmir under the ambit of Indian Constitution, Union Parliament, Supreme Court of India and the Election Commission of India. Till 1953, these institutions did not have any role there. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s services were lost to the country at a time when they were required the most.
Shyama Prasad Mukherji College of University of Delhi was established in 1969 in his memory. On 7 August 1998, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation named a bridge after Mukherjee. Delhi has a major road named after Mukherjee called Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Marg, Kolkata, too, has a major road called Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Road. In 2001, the main research funding institute of the Government of India, CSIR, instituted a new fellowship named after him. However, his legacy will stay on to guide the nation, nationalism and nationhood. It will inspire the lives and times for generations to come.
Mookerjee was a nationalist to the core. ‘Country comes first’ was his watchword and ‘Live and let live’ was the motto of his life. At present, few flattering pseudo seculars and leftist historians are trying to downplay his contribution to India’s independence and the formation of West Bengal. He lived and died for the cause of the nation.Syamaprasad will be regarded as having died a martyr’s death in Kashmir. It is a grim tragedy that a great patriot of his stature should have died a premature death while in detention without trial-none of his near and dear ones being present beiside him at the home of his death. Shyamaprashad, in order to foil the evil design of Sheikh Abdulla the self proclaimed Premir of Jammu and Kashmir,not only gave up his precious life for the sake of the country but forced the Government of India to accept that there must be One Nation, ‘Ek Nishan Ek Bidhan and Ek Pradhan‘ in India.