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United Bengal Plan

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    15th Mar, 2021

In a recent election rally in Muchipara, West Bengal, a politician spoke about the contributions of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee in making of West Bengal after independence in 1947.

Context

In a recent election rally in Muchipara, West Bengal, a politician spoke about the contributions of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee in making of West Bengal after independence in 1947.

About

Who was Shyama Prasad Mookerjee?

  • Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, born on July 6, 1901, was the independent India’s first Minister of Industry and Supply and founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
    • The Jan Sangh was founded on some basic principles — promotion of Uniform Civil Code, ban on cow slaughter and ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • In the 1952 general elections, Jan Sangh won three seats and Mookerjee was elected as an MP from south Calcutta. Jan Sangh was renamed as the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980.
  • In 1934, Mookerjee earned the rare distinction of becoming the youngest vice-chancellor of Calcutta University at the age of 33.
  • Mookerjee was President of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha between 1943 and 1946.
  • He was one of the strongest voices to have opposed the united Bengal plan, as per which Bengal would be a separate nation, independent from both India and Pakistan.

What was United Bengal Plan?

  • British Bengal roughly consisted of modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. 
  • In 1905, Bengal was partitioned to achieve some political returns but people's growing movement under the auspices of Congress led to the reunion in 1911. 
  • In 1947, along with India and Pakistan, there almost emerged a third sovereign country: United Bengal.
  • The division of the province was demanded on communal lines.
  • However, the plan was foiled following concerted and unanimous efforts of the Hindus of Bengal.
    • Hindu opinion was firmly against a sovereign and united Bengal.

Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and his plan-

  • Though Mookerjee was a staunch advocate of the integrity of the country, but when the division of India became imminent, he campaigned for the division of Bengal.
  • In February 1947, the Hindu Mahasabha under Mookerjee put forward the demand for dividing Bengal on religious grounds.
  • He demanded West Bengal for Hindu Bengalis.
  • He had opposed a bid to form a united, but independent Bengal in 1947 that was pushed by Sarat Bose, brother of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, former Pakistani prime minister.

Leaders who were in favour and against the Plan

  • Against: Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel were implacably opposed to a United Bengal.
  • In favour: Suhrawardy along with few other top Bengal politicians like Sarat Bose and K.S. Roy came up with an alternative for the Partition.
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