It is said that the status of women is the mirror of that society. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee is a founder of BJP that has an ideology based on Hindu customs and traditions. Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee has not supported the bill of Ambedkar i.e based on women empowerment. “The Hindu Code Bill” did not support mam to married more than one woman. This “The Hindu Code Bill” also amended many cultural values for the progression of Indian society.
But Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee did not favour this Hindu code bill because he thought that this bill interrupted the basic rules of our cultural society.
Syama Prasad Mookerjee a Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet, Mookerjee had resigned to form the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, to which the Bharatiya Janata Party traces its origins. However, a little-known fact about him went unnoticed. Mookerjee was one of the primary targets of the first amendment to the Constitution, by which the words “friendly relations with foreign States” were introduced as an exception to the right to free speech.
Rajendra Prasad, first President of India, who believed religion in the society is equally important as anything else wanted to have a uniform civil code whereas Nehru believed minorities should be given additional safeguards against Hindu majority.
The history of the Hindu right’s opposition to the Hindu Code Bill. The RSS, Hindu Mahasabha, Dharma Mahamandal, Akhil Bharatiya Dharma Sangh and several other organisations fiercely opposed the Hindu code Bill. The most vociferous critics of reforms in Hindu law in the 1940s and 1950s are now arguing for the UCC. The RSS itself was leading the opposition. As many as 79 public meetings were organised in 1949 by the RSS in Delhi to oppose the Hindu Code Bill which was termed as an atom bomb on Hindus.
The Historical Debate…
It is true that Shyama Prasad Mukherjee said in Parliament that instead of the Hindu Code Bill, the government should bring in the UCC. There was much substance in this argument and Nehru indeed did a disservice to Muslim women by not bringing reforms for all communities in one go. Hindu law reform proposals received a lot of opposition not only from the extreme right but also from Congress leaders such as Vallabhbhai Patel, deputy prime minister, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Congress president, Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, speaker of the constituent assembly. Madan Mohan Malviya and Kailash Nath Katju also opposed the reforms. When the debate on the Hindu Code Bill took place in 1949, as many as 23 out of 28 speakers who participated in the debate opposed it.
On September 15, 1951, Rajendra Prasad threatened to use his powers of returning the bill to Parliament or vetoing it. Nehru had to concede and the bill could not be passed.
In 1949 itself, the Hindu right had formed an All-India Anti Hindu Code Bill Committee under the leadership of Swami Karpatri Maharaj who made even Ambedkar’s “low” caste an issue. Karpatri justified unregulated polygamy and freely quoted Yajnavalkya:
“If the wife is a habitual drunkard, a confirmed invalid, a cunning, a barren or a spendthrift woman, if she is bitter-tongued, if she has got only daughters and no son, if she hates her husband, (then) the husband can marry a second wife even while the first is living.” Geeta Press’s Kalyan magazine published a number of articles which favoured polygamy, opposed the daughter’s right to inheritance and questioned the Constituent Assembly’s right to legislate on religious matters.
Aspect of Ambedkar
On the aspect of Hindu code bill is Dr Ambedkar’s understanding of the subjugation of women in India, its links with the system of Chaturvarna and the urgent need for reform within Hindu laws. He had said during the course of the discussion on the Hindu Code Bill “Whatever else Hindu society may adopt, it will never give up its social structures (chaturvarna) for the enslavement of the shudra and the enslavement of women. It is for this reason that law must now come to their rescue in order that society may move on.”
While this remains a fundamental difference between the approach of Dr Ambedkar with the RSS, committed as it is to the tenets of the Manu Smriti, the Sangh Parivar leaders have maintained a deafening silence about their own role in the entire period starting from the 1940s to the end of the decade of the fifties when the Hindu Code Bills were adopted. It is necessary to look back at history not least because there is little change in their views towards women.
At that time, even on the question of the limited reforms within Hindu laws suggested by Dr Ambedkar as law minister in the Nehru government, the RSS and its ideologically affiliated leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, strongly opposed the reforms and also made vicious personal attacks against Ambedkar. They were in the company of many top ranking leaders of the Congress including the then president of India Rajendra Prasad and the then minister for home affairs, Vallabhbhai Patel and others. They were also in the company of Muslim fundamentalists some of whom like Naziruddin Ahmed took the lead in strongly opposing the Bill proving once again the truth that whether Hindu or Muslim fundamentalists, their retrograde views have everything in common, two sides of the same coin.
At last Dr Ambedkar resign from constitutional assembly due “The Hindu Code Bill”. Then within two-year Nehru passed this bill in a split manner. Today due that “The Hindu Code Bill” women are in better condition in our nation.