NMML, Syama Prasad Mookerjee think-tank to publish works on Jan Sangh founder


The executive council of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) has selected a think-tank to jointly bring out the complete works on Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, the BJP-affiliated think -tank, which had first mooted this idea in Mach 2016, has been selected as the nodal agency for the project. The comprehensive project could go on for more than two years, said official sources.
In the last one year, since the think-tank had applied at the NMML for approval, the executive council had sought various clarifications on the nature of the project, which have been responded to and work on it has finally began recently, said official sources.
A team of researchers in New Delhi and Kolkata will work on this project and the initial books of the 10 volume set are expected to be launched before December. Well-kown names such as Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Das Gupta and Delhi University professor Sangeet Ragi are involved in the project.
The books will not only deal with lesser known details about Mookerjee’s journey but will also feature interviews of people who have worked with him or have looked at his work closely across Rangoon, Silchar and Jammu. They will also comprehensively cover different parts of his personality from being an educationalist to being the voice of Hindu refugees. His work at Maha Bodhi Society and related tours in Myanmar and Sri Lanka will also be covered.
Mookerjee’s work as a minister in prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet, his fall out with Nehru and what went into his conception of the idea of Jan Sangh, his struggle for integration of Kashmir and his role as the president of the Hindu Maha Sabha, his contribution to the growth of institutions such as Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore are among other focuses, said those involved in the research.
In the last three years there has been a tug of war of sorts between between those who think NMML should be “democratised” to publicise the contribution of leaders from the right too, and those who think the historical place should preserve its decade old Congress focused ethos,
According to Anirban Ganguly, the director of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, the collected works of Mookerjee should have come out many years ago but the project never took off, mainly because of the “intellectual apathy” of the ecosystem dominated by left liberal academics all these years.
“Leaders such as Syama Prasad Mookerjee clearly faced this marginalisation just because their views and actions did not fall under a certain spectrum. Since the seventies, a particular group has controlled the academia. In West Bengal particularly, the political marginalisation was more because Mookerjee’s views on the nation were not in line with what the communists thought.”
The last time a comprehensive book on Mookerjee came out was in 1959. The collection of his speeches with a foreword by former vice-president S Radhakrishnan was enlarged and republished last year and launched by BJP pesident Amit Shah. Biographies of the Jan Sangh leader have also been written by Jan Sangh leaders Balraj Madhok, Tathagatha Roy and Dinesh Chandra Sinha among others.
According to those involved in the project, the complete works will look at Mookerjee’s life as an academician and education activist who “was very clear about how autonomy of higher education institutes and how they should function with a sense of responsibility”.Ganguly said that he had recently met former president Pranab Mukherjee who too had encouraging words to say about the project.”
Among other issues, he spoke extensively about Syama Prasad Mookerjee and his role in drafting the 1948 industrialisation policy and his efforts that went into making Jan Sangh the primary opposition party in just six years of the party’s formation,” he added.


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