Autumn Number 2019

Shyamaprasad Recalled

370 and first 'Martyr' of 370

Asok Chattopadhyay

Following the inroads over Kashmiri people through the recent abolition of Article 370, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership now calls this move in consistence with the dream that Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, one of their political icons, dreamt of.

No doubt the statues of Syama-prasad Mukherjee and Dindayal Upadhyay would be erected in Kashmir soon. Even the historic Lalchak might be renamed after Shyamaprasad and his bust statue might be erected there. Thus they are busy at trading a cheap national sentiment of course for the ensuing elections tending to have the best of it.

The National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi has recently claimed that 'BJP's ideological icon Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was party to the Cabinet decision in 1949 on Article 370'.  And this has naturally invited 'angry rebuttal' from none other than Amit Shah, the BJP leader and Hon'ble Home Minister, himself. Masoodi even has unfurled that Shyamaprasad was 'a member of the Union Cabinet led by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru'. And as such the decision on inserting the Article 370 was nothing but a part of 'collective decision'.

In his new book 'Hindutva's Second Comimg', Subhash Gatade has revealed the face of Shyamaprasad which is embarrassing to the BJP-wallahs. Syamaprasad is said to have been arrested in Kashmir for his opposing the 'special status to Kashmir' is nothing but a sham. Because Shyama-prasad 'initially accepted' the 'inevitability of Article 370, which provides autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir'. A G Noorani in his article 'Article 370: A constitutional History of J and K' has divulged many a material that are able enough to debase the pompous claims by BJP do shrouding Shyamaprasad. In a write-up in Counterview their special representative has written:
Gatade, a Left activist and author of several books and articles in Hindi and English, states, these are enough to 'clear many a confusion about the tumultuous era in post-Independence times' pertaining to J&K. Negotiated between Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, says Gatade, special status to J&K 'had a stamp of approval from Sardar Patel and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, with Patel playing an important role in getting the provision for J&K's special status cleared by our Constituent Assembly.'

Patel had intervened in dispute 'between some Congress Party members' opposing to the 'special status' and Gopalaswamy Ayyangar (Minister without portfolio in the then Jawaharlal Nehru's ministry) 'to ensure the smooth passage of Article 370.' Even Jitendra Singh being the former spokesman for BJP for Jammu and Kashmir did have acknowledged that Shyamaprasad 'had suggested to' Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, 'to put a time-bound rider on Article 370.' The veteran journalist Balraj Puri had also written:
'[S]hyama Prasad's prolonged triangular correspondence with Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah on the status of the state, which was published at that time by the party, is the most authentic evidence of his stand on the issue.

In his letter on the 9th January 1953 Shyamaprasad Mukherjee wrote to Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah:
We would readily agree to treat the valley with Sheikh Abdullah as the head in any special manner and for such time as he would like but Jammu and Ladakh must be fully integrated with India.

Shyamprasad wrote to Nehru on February 17, 1953, wherein he suggested that both parties should reiterate that the 'unity of the state will be maintained and that the principle of autonomy will apply to the province of Jammu and also to Ladakh and Kashmir Valley' and that the 'implementation of Delhi agreement' granting 'special status' to the state would be made at the next session of Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. Subhas Gatade affirmed that Nehru, in reply, said that 'proposal for autonomy to the three provinces had been agreed by him and Abdullah in July 1952. If Mukerjee had realised his mistake, he should withdraw the agitation unconditionally. Mukherjee was unwilling to do it as it amounted to surrender. The deadlock prolonged over some way which could provide, what may be called, a face saving to the Jana Sangh.'

The political stance of Shyama-prasad Mukherjee is less surprising than that of Mahammad Ali Jinnah. At a stage Jinnah was non-communal, patriot and anti-British.  The roles of Shyamaprasad were much enduring and worth humanitarian during the days of his attachment to the politics of pre-Hindu Mahasabha bubble. Although his Hindu consciousness was alive and active in those days, he was then more humane and a sensitive leader of the people. He started his political innings throughout the line of Congress activism, but his favour for Hindu interest remained nothing undercurrent ever. In spite of it, he was not hesitant to share his political activism alongwith Abul Kasem Fazlul Haq. But never was he noticed to act any role that might hamper the interest of the British rulers of this then dependent country. Even he, for some time, was attached to the Bangabani, the family journal coming out from their house. Pather Dabi, the great grand novel of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay began serialising in this Bangabani since March 1922. After a lapse of seven years Shyamaprasad became a Congress nominated Bengal Legislative Council member of the Calcutta University. He was then twenty eight years of age. Five years had passed and he became the Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University.

In his memoirs he wrote that in spite of earning a lot not unlike that of a then Judge, his father Asutosh was eager of getting the assignment of the Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University.  Does it indicate Asutosh's longing for entering into the corridor of power and to serve the interest of the foreign government? In the days of his youth Asutosh was a firebrand student leader and led a students' protest move when injustice poured down on Surendranath Banerjee.  Latter he left the past-rest in peace and became serving the rulers' interest in the British regime.

Shyamaprasad was in ruling infatuated with Savarkar's political ideas, philosophy, communalistic outlook and loyalty to the Britishers. He became the staunch disciple of Savarkar. But this Veer Savarkar and the Hindu Mahasabha 'actively collaborated with the British' as it was widely known that the 'Hindutva groups regarded Muslims, and not the British, as their primary enemies.' Even when the Congress leaders were arrested during the Quit India movement, the Hindu Mahasabha, still presided over by Savarkar, entered into a coalition with the Muslim League to run the governments in Sindh and Bengal—a move Savarkar justified as 'practical politics' which calls for 'advance through reasonable compromises'.

Interestingly when Subhas Chandra Bose was busy at raising his Indian National Army to confront the British in India—
Savarkar helped the colonial government recruit lakhs of Indians into its armed forces. He further destabilised the freedom movement by pushing his Hindutva ideology, which deepened the communal divide at a time when a united front against colonial rule was needed. Post independence, Savarkar was also implicated in Mahatma Gandhi's murder.

The shrewd politics of communal divide played an active role behind the open scene of the partition in 1947. And this happened in Bengal and Punjab. A destructive communal game was turned into a burning question having no immediate solution but to partition Bengal and Punjab frying into a firing pan for the years to come. Almost all the then political parties of the land were at one with each other to accept the colonial and imperial policy of divide and rule and indulged to bifurcating the land and even the culture too. The land got divided, culture got divided. Enmity between the Hindus and the Muslims cropped up de novo to become an inhuman playing game of communal politics shedding blood having no other colour than red.

This partition caused to have about fourteen million people razed from their homestead and about two million lost their lives. It was the first grand gift of the 'independent' country to its 'independent countrymen' Just a one year back in 1946, the ruler and their lackeys trading vested interest had been at glee to have seen the numerous corpses murdered in the communal massacre. The riot of 1946 took of more than five thousand lives in Calcutta only in between three and four days! 170 people were murdered and one thousand injured on the 16th August. On the day after it reported to have 270 people dead and 1600 injured. On the 19th this number augmented to 2000 and 3000 respectively. Sumit Sarkar wrote that 4000 people were murdered and 10000 injured up to the 19th August 1946 in Calcutta only.

Calcutta had to witness another riot in between March 26 to April 1, 1947 again. The heinous riot of 1946 did have no instance of loot and rape, inebriation of bloodshed as if made the rioters mad! After the 1946-riot of Calcutta, it put up its poisonous head in Noakhali on the 10th October 1946 causing 5000 lives dead. But unlike Calcutta-riot, Noakhali witnessed the incidences of bon-fire, misappropriation and rape! And not before getting this streak of blood there came the partition and 'independence' among the people at bay.

Rajagopalacharya, the Congress leader of Madras and having close affinity with Birla, directly pleaded for partition along with Bengal-divide proposal in the year 1942. Two years have passed K M Munsi, Congress leader of Madras being close to Gandhiji and Patel wrote to Gandhiji demanding partition of Bengal and Punjab. And Gandhiji played a biased and cunning referee in the flaming field. Sometimes he supported the proposal of partition and sometimes again called it a crime! He actually acted villainy. It was such a background what the British ruler had been waiting for long. And at last they did the worse than the worst to have a map bleed, country bleed, humanity bleed and dreams bleed forever.

Shyamaprasad did the best of his efforts to effect the Bengal partition into real. On and from February 20, 1947 Shyamaprasad led a movement for partition of Bengal and this movement enjoyed support from the Congress leadership! On May 11, Shyamaprasad wrote to Patel requesting him to keep vigilance so that the proposal for Bengal partition might not be shelved in case Jinnah agreed to die down to the cabinet mission proposal, any way! He left no stone unturned to keep the proposal for Bengal partition actively alive. He was an ardent pleader for partition of Bengal in spite of Pakistan divide! It was just but an 'echo' of Birla and Jawaharlal Nehru towards their out-swing to Bengal divide politics.

Abul Kalam Azad was dubious enough as to partition might bring forth riot and more problems to come. He wrote :
I also asked Mountbatten to take into consideration the likely consequences of the partition of the country. Even without partition, there were riots in Calcutta, Noakhali, Bihar, Bombay and Punjab. Hindus had attacked Muslims and Muslims attacked Hindus. If the country was divided in such an atmosphere there would be rivers of blood flowing in different parts of the country and the British would be responsible for such carnage.

Following the assassination of Gandhiji by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu Mahasa-bha activist, in January 1948, just on completion of five and half a month of 'independence', somehow jeopardised Shyamaprasad. Nathuram shot thrice to finish off Gandhiji in public! The report of the assassination of Gandhiji went as below :
The assassin was seized by Tom Reiner of Lancaster, Mass., a vice consul attached to the American Embassy and a recent arrival in India. ...Mr Reiner grasped the assailant by the shoulders and shoved him toward several police guards. Only then did the crowd begin to grasp what had happened and a forest of fists be labored the assassin...

After this heinous incident the leaders of Hindu Mahasabha actually perplexed as to stand by their views. Gandhi-murder was branded by Abul Kalam Azad a 'tragedy'. He wrote :
For two or three weeks after the tragedy, the leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha or the RSS could not come out and face the public. Dr Shyamaprasad Mookerjee was then President of the Hindu Mahasabha and a Minister in the Union Government. He dared not come out of his house and after some time resigned from the Mahasabha.

After tendering resignation from the Hindu Mahasabha he was not of view with thinking other side of the moon. Rather he consulted with MS Golwalkar of the RSS and founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh on October 21, 1951 in Delhi and became the first President of this newly born organisation. And this Jana Sangha is the mother of the BJP of these days.

And this Shyamaprasad is the golden eyeball to the Hindu religio-fascists, their emblem of great Hindu icon worth be remembered ever with no prejudices lagging behind! This Hindu Shyamaprasad with his all out miscreancies is the golden tool of hating Muslims to lodge a politics of religio-fascism on to the traumatic days to come.

After the abrogation of Article 370 by the arrogant BJP Government in the dawn of the month of August, not far away from the fifteenth, the noted historian Ramchandra Guha has penned in an English Daily :
The Babri Masjid was demolished by a crazed mob in broad daylight in 1992. Article 370 was abrogated at night by a secretive government in 2019…there are some striking similarities between these two even, occurring 27 years apart. Both were justified as righting historical wrongs; both were triumphantly acclaimed by the Sangh parivar and their supporters…

Time shivers. Something is going to happen soon. An evil omen may jeopardise humanity, the freedom of the people of India in the month of independence. Warring over the freedom of expression, right to protest, right for azadi and warring against the people of India are perhaps in the making.

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Autumn Number 2019
Vol. 52, No. 13 - 16, Sep 29 - October 26, 2019