Volume 1, No. 9, November 2000


Shyam Prasad — A Hindutva British Stooge

— Somesh


The educated Bengali babu, a trusted repository of Brahminism, leader of the Hindu Maha Sabha, and founder of the Jan Sangh, Shyam Prasad Mukherjee’s birth centenary is being celebrated by the BJP with much fanfare in this year 2000 A.D. The BJP Prime Minister, Vajpayee, dashed to Calcutta on July 6 to pay his guru his respects and West Bengal’s police minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya showed his dramatics by refusing to attend this "undoubtedly great political leader’s" centenary celebration for ideological reasons. Yet, within 19 days of this statement, which attracted much media attention for its strong ideological moorings, the CPM minister, Bhattacharya, did a topsy turvy by declaring that "on behalf of the state government it has been decided to celebrate his birth centenary year."

A brief description of this mans’s career is worth discussing here.

When the country was aflame with the revolutionaries and the masses launching one attack after another on the British imperialists and the great heroes of the soil courting martyrdom during the 1929-30 period, this Bengali Hindu babu embarked on his comfortable political career by getting elected to the Bengal legislature on a Swarajya Party ticket in 1929. When the masses arose against the ruthless British colonial system, Mukherjee had this written in his diary on 11 April, 1939 : Obviously being shocked by the death of the Bengal Governor, Brabourne, that Brabourne was a great man and his death was a loss to Bengal. This careerist Hindu chauvinist, joined the Hindu Maha Sabha in 1939 to espouse the cause of the Hindus in India. In 1941 he joined the Fazlul Haque ministry in Bengal as a representative of the Hindu Maha Sabha. He wrote an emotional letter to the then Bengal Governor on March 7, 1942 that he could derive satisfaction if the Indians resisted the enemies of the British elsewhere, like the Far East, to save British prestige.

Shyam Prasad in his early life stepped into his father’s shoes by becoming another Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University. He was the able son of his father by vitiating the atmosphere of this University indulging in rampant nepotism in respect of service and letting the family member candidates come out successfully in the exams. The renowned critic of English literature, Prof. Subodh Chandra Sengupta, went on record saying how, during the stint of father Sir Ashutosh and son Shyama Prasad, marks of relatives were tampered with and how the dread of such dirty practices compelled many a brilliant candidate to drop certain years of exam as some relations of the Mukherjee family too had appeared for these exams.

In Bengal what remained a prolonged contradiction between the Hindu zamindars and Muslim peasants assumed a communal character fanned by the deliberate efforts of the communalists. Later in his life Shyam Prasad consistently, openly sided with the Hindu zamindars. After the communal award the Hindu domination in the Bengal legislature dwindled in favour of the Muslims. On 27 December 1939 the Hindu Maha Sabha emerged in Bengal through the hoisting of the saffron flag at the Wellington Square in Calcutta by Savarkar, Shyam Prasad remaining his main assistant. This event delighted the British colonial power. An elated governor of Bengal, who was present in Calcutta, shot off a letter to Zetland, the head of the Indian state, which read "Gradually emerging and with considerable vigour, as something approaching a political force, (they) have just held a monster-meeting here (in Calcutta) from which there has emerged a series of resolutions highly communal in character and condemnatory of the Congress. I will not be surprised, things being as they are, if the Maha Sabha were to succeed, in stealing a certain amount of Congress thunder." (Zetland Collection, IOLR, MSSEUR D/609/19)

One researcher, Jaya Chatterjee, in her book Bengal Divided noted such revealing facts that "Big business was the first to switch its allegiance. Calcutta’s wealthy Marwari families handsomely donated to the Maha Sabha’s coffers, and Jugal Kishore Birla, whose family in the past had underwritten many Congress ventures, headed the list of donors, who financed the Maha Sabha conference in Calcutta. Also on the list were Seth Banshidhar Jalan, Badridas Goenka and Radhakissen Konodia, while Khaitan and company made generous contributions." (Memo dated 3rd December, 1939, GB, SB `PH’ series, File No. 501/39 (III)

The Hindu zamindars came forward in large numbers to give shape to the Hindu Maha Sabha in Bengal. We learn from the same source the names of the Hindu zamindars who funded the Maha Sabha for the above meeting.

When the communal flare-up was assuming menacing dimensions Shyam Prasad wrote in his diary on 4 January, 1946 that "Force must in the last analysis be met with force. An internal policy of non-resistance to armed violence would eventually condemn any society to dissolution."

As a consistent communalist this educated Brahmin leader naturally gave the clarion call from the Sabha’s Tarakeswar Session to fashion the Hindustan National Guard with the membership strength of one and half lakh.

Arun Jetley, the BJP minister at the centre, recently fulminated against the communists for their role during the Quit India Movement in 1942. It is true the CPI leadership abandoned any struggle against British imperialism and mortgaged the ideology of revolutionary Marxism to the colonial masters with a one-sided approach to the people’s war during World War II. But the rabid anti-communist elements of the BJP do not unmask the leaders like Shyam Prasad Mukherjee.

Mukherjee wrote a letter to the Bengal Governor on 26 July 1942 suggesting measures against the Quit India Movement. The noted historian Ramesh Chandra Mazumdar wrote that "Shyam Prasad ended the letter with a discussion of the mass movement organised by the Congress. He expressed the apprehension that the movement would create internal disorder and will endanger internal security during the war by exciting popular feeling and he opined that any government in power has to suppress it, but that according to him could not be done only by persecution.... In that letter he mentioned item wise the steps to be taken for dealing with the situation .... " (Ramesh Ch. Mazumdar, History of Modern Bengal, Part II, pp 350-351)

In Kashmir the Maharaja Hari Singh, the descendent of the British stooge Gulam Singh who betrayed Ranjit Singh during the British-Sikh war and received the safe throne of Kashmir, decided not to join either of the two dominions, India and Pakistan on 15 August 1947, By the year 1952 on 26 July Nehru and popular leader Sheikh Abdullah signed the memorandum of accession to India agreeing to separate citizenship, a separate flag, the right to frame ones own laws and to elect ones own president through the Kashmir Constituent Assembly, displacing the hereditory power of the Maharaja. Shyam Prasad had by then set up the Hindu communal party, the Jan Sangh. He nurtured a never-ending grudge against Sheikh Abdullah who replaced the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh. When Nehru inducted him into his ministry, Shyam Prasad seized the occasion to train his guns on Sheikh Abdullah. He wrote to Sheik Abdullah "I don’t know intimately about your past, but I have seen some papers and documents stated as leader of a communist party. Even important British officers expressed their unconcealed anxiety to utilise you and your movement for bringing about the end of a Hindu Maharaja Rule." [Cited in Ramen Das, Shyam Prasad ki Sampradaik Chhilen, (Was Shyam Prasad, Communal ?) Page 67]

It was intolerable for Shyam Prasad to adjust himself to the two identities, communist and Muslim, of Sheikh Abdullah. It was but natural for him to stretch his mind too far to use the communist tag against Sheik Abdullah for his fulmination against the pernicious policies of the Majaraja and then the Nehru regimes. Shyam Prasad and his party, the Jan Sangh, did not accept the privileges gained by the Kashmiri people through their prolonged struggles. In 1953 while the Jan Sangh opposed the plebiscite in Kashmir, the Praja Parishad formed by the RSS workers violently stood for one country, one rule, rejecting the privileges gained by the Kashmiri people. On 26 June 1953 Shyam Prasad was arrested by the Sheikh Abdullah government when he had entered Kashmir to extend support to the Praja Parishad movement. He died in jail. In brief, it is the life sketch of the social scum, lackey of British imperialism and communalist careerist Shyam Prasad Mukherjee. Shyam Prasad too expressed his own analysis of himself in his diary that he had committed many a sin in his life, taking recourse to falsehood solely for temporary felicity. [Shyam Prasad’s Diary (in Bengali) page 52]. This sums up the real character of the father of the Jan Sangh, that re-incarnated itself as the Bharatiya Janata Party in the late 70s.

BJP’s Fake Decentralisation

The BJP’s pretense of de-centralisation of power is a hoax. It views the formation of smaller states, not as a process of the decentralisation and devolution of power locally, but as a more effective administrative mechanism with which to control the people.

In fact, in the last few months it has sought the further centralisation of power in the hands of the centre in all spheres — fiscal, cultural and political.

In the fiscal sphere, the Eleventh Finance Commission, while maintaining the meagre allocations to the states; it has given new powers to the centre to withold grants to any state, if it does not effectively implement its programmes. In education it seeks a hegemonistic Hindutva curriculum crushing the rich local realities, and promoting English and Hindi at the cost of the mother tongue.

In the sphere of politics, the BJP has, of late made a desperate bid to increase the powers of the Home Ministry in the states. On June 28, the Home Minister convened a meeting of Chief Secretaries and police chiefs of all states, to push through legislation "to regulate the centre’s intervention in Law and Order in the states", and for this purpose "the transfer of the subjects ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ from the State List to the Concurrent List" involving Article 355 of the Constitution. This attempt failed due to opposition from the states.




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