KOLKATA (WEST BENGAL): Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, whose sacrifice in Jammu and Kashmir region where he died in detention, has often been invoked by his outfit’s by-product BJP, was not a religious zealot who sought to establish the Hindutva in India, his 93-year-old nephew has asserted on his 121st birth anniversary.
As he gently ambles from the fuchsia door of his old crumbling home on Ashutosh Mookerjee Street in South Kolkata’s Bhowanipore, Chittatosh Mookerjee makes no bones about his claims that may change the historical perspective of Jan Sangh’s foundation and the birth of the Bharatiya Janta Party. But he seems unnerved by his claims.
“My uncle Syama Prasad Mookerjee emphasised on Parliamentary politics and believed in constitutional principles. He did not, in that way, pronounce that Hindutva must be established. That was not his idea. He did believe in preserving Indian culture, its ideals,” says Chittatosh.
The frail nonagenarian quietly ensconces on the chair in his study, surrounded by the literature on SP Mookerjee, among others, as he had an unhinged conversion with The New Indian.
Chittatosh, who was also a former Governor of Maharashtra, believes, “There is no attempt to preserve it as a national memorial, we are doing it as a part of our memorial institute but I presume it’s better if this place could have been preserved as a historical memorial.”
“His (SP Mookerjee’s) memories and his ideals, apart from making use of it for election purposes, maybe for their own advancements BJP has not done much to preserve it,” the nephew alleged.
His comments come at a time when battle lines have been drawn in India between communities and political parties over the barbaric killing of a Hindu tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli in Rajasthan’s Udaipur in full public view by two Muslim men, FIR against ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments and police cases against a Canada-based filmmaker.
Chittatosh, who has been a Chief Justice of Calcutta and Bombay High Courts, said, “The ideals of Jana Sangh, the party which he founded, are not the same as that of BJP, the party that formed out of Jana Sangh. Some of the things he did say that they have kept in their ideas but the identity is not the same between these two parties.”
He used to share “most pleasant” relations with his friends in the opposition.
Excavating memory, Chittatosh recalls that his uncle was very much inspired by Swami Vivekananda and Swami Pranavananda.
“It was in 1940 that SP Mookerjee joined Hindu Mahasabha and got influenced by Veer Savarkar after hearing one of his lectures,” Chittatosh points out.
Chittatosh also reveals that while his uncle was very serious during his working hours, on days when he could relax a bit he used to travel to Madhupur where his extended family used to live. There he used to play cards and tell stories to the children while enjoying home-cooked food.
Chittatosh says that they once visited the ancestral house where Syama Prasad Mookerjee used to live but the family wants to preserve it as a national memorial sans any political hallmark.
Soon, Debdutta Chakraborty, who has penned down a trilogy on Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, joins her grandfather Chittatosh with a list of wishes.
“Just hoping that someday the Delhi bungalow of Syama Prasad Mookerjee can be converted into a museum dedicated to his memory and funding can be made to the institute to preserve the documents in his 77, Ashutosh Mookerjee house,” she quips.
The duo doesn’t make it abundantly clear if their heart beats for the BJP but they remain non-committal on joining any political party ever and insist they will make no overtures to any party either.