New Delhi: Former president Pranab Mukherjee, while speaking in Delhi about freedom fighter Chittaranjan Das invoked the 1923 Bengal Pact drafted by him, aimed at communal harmony, and suggested that had it seen country-wide implementation, “perhaps the partition could have been avoided”. Mukherjee had earlier addressed the RSS swayamsevaks at their headquarters in Nagpur and said that “any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity”.
He had come into criticism from different quarters, including his daughter and Congress leader Sharmishtha Mukherjee who had distanced herself from the move. The former President spoke at Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park’s Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Memorial Society on the occasion of the freedom fighter’s 93rd death anniversary. Although, his son – Bengal Congress MP Abhijeet Mukherjee was present with him, his daughter was absent.
Speaking of the role played by Das in creating the Bengal pact – that was aimed at forming “unity from the top” between Muslims and Hindus in 1923 – Mukherjee said, “Many believe that had it been implemented across India, then there perhaps would not have been any need for the partition.” He added that this was a topic for historical research.
Speaking of the role played by Das in the freedom struggle, particularly during the non-cooperation movement, Mukherjee added that Das was praised by both Bengali poet Kazi Nasrul Islam and Congress leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad for his sensitivity to the needs of Muslims. Das, Mukherjee said, was a leader “who could feel and understand the woes and needs of the Muslims.”