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Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the first Hindu nationalist political party of its kind, and was also the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Mookerjee was born on July 6, 1901 in Calcutta, a major Indian city and capital of Bengal. His father was Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, a well respected advocate in Bengal, who became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta, and his mother was Lady Jogmaya Devi Mookerjee.
Mookerjee obtained his degree from the University of Calcutta. He graduated in English securing the first position in first class and also did MA and BL. He became a fellow of the Senate in 1923. He enrolled as an advocate in Calcutta High Court in 1924 after his father's death. Subsequently he left for England in 1926 to study in Lincoln's Inn and became a barrister in 1927. At the age of 33, he became the youngest Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta, and held the office till 1938.
He was elected as member of the Legislative Council of Bengal, as a Congress candidate representing Calcutta University but resigned next year when Congress decided to boycott the legislature. Subsequently, he contested the election as an independent candidate and got elected.
He emerged as a spokesman for Hindus and shortly joined Hindu Mahasabha and in 1944, he became the President. Mookerjee was not anti-Muslim, but a Hindu political leader who felt the need to counteract the communalist and separatist Muslim League of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who were demanding either exaggerated Muslim rights or a Muslim state of Pakistan.
Mookerjee adopted causes to unite Hindu voices, and protect Hindus against what he believed to be the communal propaganda and the divisive agenda of the Muslim League. To Mookerjee, the Muslims were a minority and thus could not in any system of logic and reason be given a status superior to the majority Hindu masses. Mookerjee and his future followers would always cite inherent Hindu practices of tolerance and communal respect as the reason for a healthy, prosperous and safe Muslim population in the country in the first place.
Mookerjee was initially a strong opponent of the Partition of India, but following the communal riots of 1946-47, in which Muslim mobs killed thousands of Hindus all over Bengal, provoking Hindu retaliation, Mookerjee strongly disfavored Hindus continuing to live in a Muslim-dominated state and under a government controlled by the Muslim League.
Mookerjee supported the partition of Bengal in 1946 to prevent the inclusion of its Hindu-majority areas in a Muslim-dominated East Pakistan; he also opposed a failed bid for a united but independent Bengal made in 1947 by Sarat Bose, the brother of Subhas Chandra Bose and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a Bengali Muslim politician.
He wanted the Hindu Mahasabha not to be restricted to Hindus alone or work as apolitical body for the service of masses. Following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic, the Mahasabha was blamed chiefly for the heinous act and became deeply unpopular. Mookerjee himself condemned the murder and left the party.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inducted him in the Interim Central Government as a Minister for Industry and Supply. Mookerjee was widely respected by many Indians and also by members of the Indian National Congress, the main Indian political organization, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of its chief leaders.
But on issue of the 1949 Delhi Pact with Pakistani Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, Mookerjee resigned from the Cabinet on April 6, 1950. Mookerjee was firmly against Nehru's invitation to the Pakistani PM, and their joint pact to establish minority commissions and guarantee minority rights in both countries. He wanted to hold Pakistan directly responsible for the terrible influx of millions of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan, who had left the state fearing religious suppression and violence aided by the state. Mookerjee considered Nehru's actions as appeasement, and was hailed as a hero by the people of West Bengal.
After consultation with Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (Indian People's Union) on October 21, 1951 at Delhi and became its first President.
The BJS criticized favoritism to India's Muslims by the Nehru administration, and promoted free-market economics as opposed to the socialism in Nehru's economic and social policies. The BJS also favored a uniform civil code for both Hindus and Muslims, want to ban cow slaughter and end the special status of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir. The BJS founded the Hindutva agenda which became the wider political expression of India's Hindu majority.
Mookerjee went to visit Kashmir in 1953, and went on hunger strike to protest the law prohibiting Indian citizens from settling in a state in their own country and the need to carry ID cards, and was arrested on 11th May while crossing border. Although the ID card rule was revoked owing to his efforts, he died as detenu on May 23, 1953 under mysterious circumstances. His death in custody raised wide suspicion across the country and demands for independent enquiry, including earnest requests from his mother, Jogmaya Devi to the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Unfortunately no enquiry commission was set up and his death remains a mystery.
Along with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Mookerjee is considered the godfather of Hindu nationalism in India, especially the Hindutva movement. He is widely revered by members and supporters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Mookerjee was a major role model to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who made the BJS the chief Hindu conservative political party in the 1960s and 1970s, and founded its successor, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP has become one of the two largest national political parties, the other being the Congress Party, and had formed the Government from 1998 to 2004, with Vajpayee serving as the Prime Minister of India.
|Organisations:||Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - Vishva Hindu Parishad - Bharatiya Janata Party - Bajrang Dal - Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad - Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh - Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh|
|Major figures:||K.B. Hedgewar - Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar - Syama Prasad Mookerjee - Atal Bihari Vajpayee - Praveen Togadia|
|Related:||Hindutva - Hindu nationalism - Integral humanism - Ram Janmabhoomi - India Shining|
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