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Politics & War

Politics & War

Shyama Prasad Mukharjee

Shyama Prasad Mukharjee
  • Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (6 July 1901 – 23 June 1953) was an Indian politician, barrister, and academician, who served as Minister for Industry and Supply in Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet.
  • Mukherjee quit the Indian National Congress and founded the right-wing nationalist political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a predecessor to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in 1951.
  • He was also the president of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha from 1943 to 1946. Mukherjee was strongly opposed to Article 370 seeing as a threat to unity
  • Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was born in a Bengali Hindu family on 6 July 1901 in Calcutta (Kolkata). His father was Ashutosh Mukherjee, a judge of the High Court of Calcutta, Bengal, who was also ViceChancellor of the University of Calcutta. His mother was Jogamaya Devi Mukherjee.
  • He enrolled in Bhawanipur’s Mitra Institution in 1906 and his behavior in school was later described favorably by his teachers. In 1914, he passed his matriculation examination and was admitted into Presidency College.
  • He stood seventeenth in the Inter-Arts Examination in 1916 and graduated in English, securing the first position in the first class in 1921.
  • He was married to Sudha Devi on 16 April 1922. Mukherjee also completed an M.A. in Bengali, being graded as first class in 1923.
  • He enrolled as an advocate in Calcutta High Court in 1924. In 1934, at the age of 33, he became the youngest Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta; he held the office until 1938.
  • Mukherjee started his political career in 1929 when he entered the Bengal Legislative Council as an Indian National Congress (INC) candidate representing Calcutta University.
  • However, he resigned the next year when the INC decided to boycott the legislature. In 1937, he was elected as an independent candidate in the elections which brought the Krishak Praja Party-All India Muslim League coalition to power.
  • During his tenure, his statements against the government were censored and his movements were restricted.
  • He resigned on 20 November 1942 accusing the British government of trying to hold on to India under any cost and criticized its repressive policies against the Quit India Movement.
  • In 1946, he was again elected as an independent candidate from the Calcutta University. He was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India in the same year.
  • Mukherjee joined the Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal in 1939 and He was appointed as the working president of the organization in 1940.
  • He was elected as the President of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha in 1943. He remained in this position till 1946, with Laxman Bhopatkar becoming the new President in the same year.
  • Mukherjee demanded the partition of Bengal in 1946 to prevent the inclusion of its Hindu-majority areas in a Muslim-dominated East Pakistan wrote a letter to Lord Mountbatten telling him that Bengal must be partitioned even if India was not.
  • Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inducted Mukherjee into the Interim Central Government as a Minister for Industry and Supply on 15 August 1947.
  • Mukherjee began to have differences with Mahasabha after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, in which the organization was blamed by Sardar Patel for creating the atmosphere that led to the killing.
  • Mukherjee resigned along with K.C. Neogy from the Cabinet on 8 April 1950 over a disagreement about the 1950 Delhi Pact with Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan.
  • After consultation with M. S. Golwalkar of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mukherjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh on 21 October 1951 in Delhi, becoming its first president.
  • In the 1952 elections, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) won three seats in the Parliament of India, including Mukherjee’s.
  • The BJS was created with the objective of nation-building and “nationalizing” all non-Hindus by “inculcating Bharatiya Culture” in them. The party was ideologically close to the RSS and widely considered the proponent of Hindu nationalism.
  • Mukherjee was arrested upon entering Kashmir on 11 May 1953. He and two of his arrested companions were first taken to Central Jail of Srinagar.
  • Later they were transferred to a cottage outside the city. Mukherjee’s condition started deteriorating and he started feeling pain in the back and high temperature on the night between 19 and 20 June.
  • On 22 June, he felt pain in the heart region, started perspiring and started feeling like he was fainting. He was later shifted to a hospital and provisionally diagnosed with a heart attack. He died a day later under mysterious circumstances.