Syama Prasad Mookherjee was a patriot in the truest sense of the term. Absolutely free of dogma, he nursed and practiced liberal principles from the core of his heart.

Syama Prasad is remembered to this day owing to his tireless efforts in giving relief to the famine stricken people in 1943. Three years later, he proved his mettle during the Great Calcutta Killing showing his acumen to tackle unprecedented crisis situations be it feeding the famished as corpses lay by the way side or when neighbours turned into enemies.

All his deeds came from his love for the people of his country. He has been tried to be put into the strait jacket of a Hindu political leader, but these allegations do not hold water in the backdrop of his forming a coalition government with Fazlul Haq and later putting in his papers as a Union minister when he felt the government of the day was deviating from national interest.

When the issue of Partition came, he vehemently opposed it. Syama Prasad joined the first independent government of free India as Minister for Industries and Supply though he resigned shortly, because of his difference of opinion regarding Nehru-Liaqat Pact.

He became a vocal member of the Opposition in the Parliament and Constituent Assembly of India. His role in the Lok Sabha a trenchant critic of the government of the day earned him the title “Lion of Parliament’.

Last, but not the least, Mookherjee founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh at Delhi and became its president. The present day BJP is the successor of BJS.

Mookherjee spoke of how an idea of India that transcended both caste and religion and called for political citizenship to each one without any sort of discrimination. One sees his economic liberalism, when his ideas on the role of private capital in the industrial development of the nation. His attitude reflects views of many Indians who refuse to take things for granted. He had great gifts of logic and rhetoric which won him respect among friends and political opponents. One regrets the mysterious and untimely death of this man whose birth anniversary passed by last week.