Shyamprasad in the making of Indian Constitution


Compiled By Somesh R.K.

Shyamaprasad was the hindutva leader and celebrated intellectual of Independence era. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Dr. Shaymaprasaad Mukherjee were the only non-congress leaders who could have made place in the first cabinet of free India. The major public sector economic initiatives are the results of consistent efforts by Dr. Shyamprasad. He laid the foundation of such projects. Shyamaprasad had been elected to the Constituent assembly from Bengal. If we go through the closure times of Constitution making process; we find thankful references to him. Mukherjee was among the people whose speeches received huge cheers and attention in constituent assembly. Once, this fact was admitted by well-known communist leader Mr. Hiten Mukherjee.

When constituent assembly started its first session, Muslim league vehemently opposed. Muslim league , Jinnah decided to boycott the first proceedings. After formation of constituent assembly it received huge criticism from personalities like Winston Churchill etc. It was Shyamprasaad who staunchly defined the sovereignty of the Indian Constituent assembly by his first speech. While discussing resolution moved by Pt. Nehru , Mukherjee said,

“The Resolution has an importance of its own. After all, we are sitting here not in our individual capacity, but we claim to represent the People of this great land. Our sanction is not the British Parliament; our sanction is not the British Government; our sanction is the people of India (cheers). And if that is so, we have to say something, not merely to frame rules and regulations- we have to say something concrete to the people of India as to why we have assembled here on the 9th December 1946. If what Dr. Jayakar says had been the correct position, then this Constituent Assembly should not have been called at all; in fact, Dr. Jayakar need not have attended the meeting. He should have informed the Governor General,–“I regret I cannot accept your invitation because I feel you are doing wrong in calling the Constituent Assembly as the Muslim League and the Indian States are not attending.” But having come here, for us to raise this issue is practically to walk into the trap, of the Muslim League and to strengthen the hands of reactionaries in Great Britain. I know that Dr. Jayakar will be the last man to do such a thing. I admire his courage of conviction; in fact, everyone who feels that a certain thing should be done, must be able to come forward and present his view point. But we may also respectfully point out to Dr. Jayakar the great danger that lies in the innocent looking amendment that he has put forward before the House, and I hope that he will withdraw the amendment in due course when the time comes…..

The Resolution has an importance of its own. After all, we are sitting here not in our individual capacity, but we claim to represent the People of this great land. Our sanction is not the British Parliament; our sanction is not the British Government; our sanction is the people of India (cheers). And if that is so, we have to say something, not merely to frame rules and regulations- we have to say something concrete to the people of India as to why we have assembled here on the 9th December 1946. If what Dr. Jayakar says had been the correct position, then this Constituent Assembly should not have been called at all; in fact, Dr. Jayakar need not have attended the meeting. He should have informed the Governor General,–“I regret I cannot accept your invitation because I feel you are doing wrong in calling the Constituent Assembly as the Muslim League and the Indian States are not attending.” But having come here, for us to raise this issue is practically to walk into the trap, of the Muslim League and to strengthen the hands of reactionaries in Great Britain. I know that Dr. Jayakar will be the last man to do such a thing. I admire his courage of conviction; in fact, everyone who feels that a certain thing should be done, must be able to come forward and present his view point. But we may also respectfully point out to Dr. Jayakar the great danger that lies in the innocent looking amendment that he has put forward before the House, and I hope that he will withdraw the amendment in due course when the time comes.

(1.7.18)

I would like just to say a few words with regard to another aspect of the question. The Resolution is there, but, how are we going to implement it? What are the impediments that we already see before us which may prevent us from carrying this Resolution into effect? Now, one, of course, is the status of the Constituent Assembly in the absence of the Muslim League. Dr. Jayakar yesterday referred to some analogy of a dinner party. He said, “If guests are invited and some guests do not come, then how can you have the dinner party?” But he forgot to say what will be the fate of the guests who have already arrived? If he is going to be the host and invites six guests, suppose five of them come and one is absent, is he then going to starve those five guests of his and turn them out of his house and say, “the sixth has not come and you are not going to get your food?” Obviously not. Here also the hunger for freedom for those who have come has to be satisfied. Mr. Churchill said that the absence of the Muslim League in the Constituent Assembly was something like the absence of the bride in the Church when the marriage was going to take place. I do not know when the Indian States come in and also the Muslim League, how many brides the Constituent Assembly is going to have ultimately. In any case, if that is Mr. Churchill’s point of view, he should not play the role of a seducer. He should have asked Mr. Jinnah to go back to India and join the Constituent Assembly and place his point of view before the people of India. No one has said that the Muslim League should not come. In fact, we want that the Muslim League should come so that we can meet each other face to face. If there are difficulties, if there are differences of opinion, we do not wish that we should carry only by majority votes. That may have to be done as a last resort, but obviously, every attempt must be made, will be made to come to an agreement as regards the future Constitution of India. But why is the Muslim League being prevented from coming? My charge is that the Muslim League is not coming because of the encouragement it receives from British attitude. The Muslim League has been encouraged to feel that if it does not come, it may be able to veto the final decision of the Constituent Assembly. The power of veto in some form or another has again passed into the hands of the Muslim League, and that is the danger that threatens the future activities of this great Assembly. Sir, I am not going to discuss in detail, because this is neither the time nor the occasion when I can discuss, the various provisions of the British statements. But, I would certainly say this: that this Constituent Assembly, although it is a British creation for the time being, once it has come into existence, it has the power, if it has the will, to assert its right and to do what is best and proper for the attainment of India’s freedom, for the good of the people of India irrespective of caste, creed or community. (Hear, hear).” (Constituent assembly debates, Volume-1)

Shyamaprasad cherished confidence of the assembly by putting the words ,… If we take courage in both hands and frame a constitution which will be just and equitable to all, then we shall be able, if need be, to declare this Constituent Assembly as the first Parliament of a Free and Sovereign Indian Republic. (Loud cheers.) We then may be able to form our own National Government and enforce our decision on the people of this land. As I said a few minutes ago, our sanction is not the British people or the British Government. Our sanction is the people of India and therefore we have to make the ultimate appeal to the people of our country…

Followed by various amendments , exemplary speeches, & arguments his contribution has been stupendous as far as the whole process was concerned. He was a member of fundamental rights sub committee chaired by Acharya J. B. Kriplani.

The eminent member Das Bhargava in concluding debates of Assembly marked Mukherjee’s contribution. He said, “…Mr. Mukherjee, who always came to us smiling, deserves our thanks for his sincerity, labour and learning with which he always helped us in framing the most complicated drafts that came before the Drafting Committee.”

The mysterious death of Dr. Shyamprasad Mukherjee was not only loss of Bhartiya Jansangh but also it was a great loss to this Nation; to the constitutionalism of this country.

-Somesh Kolge (8976655170)

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