A bust of BJP icon Syama Prasad Mookerjee was blackened and damaged in Kolkata this morning. The face was blackened and eyes and ears of the bust were damaged, apparently with a hammer, say the police. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was the founder of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the ruling BJP. This is the latest in a series of incidents of vandalism that started with razing of communist leader Lenin's statue in Tripura. Tamil Nadu's Vellore also saw demolition of bust of Tamil icon and social activist EV Ramasamy, famously called Periyar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strongly condemned the vandalism of statues in Tamil Nadu and Tripura; the home ministry has asked the states to take strict action against vandalism.
Here's what you should know about the founder of Bhartiya Jana Sangh Syama Prasad Mookerjee:
1. Syama Prasad Mookerjee was born in a Bengali family in Kolkata on July 22, 1901. His father was a judge of the High Court of Calcutta.
2. After completing his education in law in 1924, he enrolled as an advocate in the Calcutta High Court.
He later went to study at the Lincon's Inn in England in 1926.
3. His tryst with politics began in 1929 when he entered the Bengal Legislative Council as an Indian National Congress (INC) candidate representing Calcutta University. He, however, resigned and fought as an independent candidate in the same year.
4. In 1937, Syama Prasad Mookerjee was elected as an independent candidate in the elections which brought the Krishak Praja Party-All India Muslim League coalition to power.
5. At the age of 33, he became the youngest Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta and held office till 1938. He received Doctor of letters from the University in the same year.
6. Syama Prasad Mookerjee joined the Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal in 1939 and became its acting president. He was the president of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha from 1943 to 1946.
7. He served as Minister for Industry and Supply in Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet from 1947-1950, but after a fall out with him, he quit the Indian National Congress.
8. After quitting Congress, Syama Prasad Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951, which is a predecessor to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
9. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was created with the objective of nation-building and "nationalising" all non-Hindus by "inculcating Bharatiya Culture" in them. The party was ideologically close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
10. Syama Prasad Mookerjee strongly opposed to Article 370 that gave autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. He saw it as a threat to national unity. He visited Kashmir in 1953 illegally, and went on a hunger strike to protest the law that prohibited Indian citizens from settling within the state and directing that they carry ID cards. Owing to his efforts, the ID card rule was revoked but he died there June 23, 1953 under mysterious circumstances.
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