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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 50

My Reminiscences of Professor Hiren Mukerjee

Monday 3 December 2007, by Rabi Ray

I had the good fortune of knowing Hiren Babu intimately when I was elected to the Fourth Lok Sabha in 1967. I had also the unique privilege to come in close contact with a distinguished galaxy of veteran parliamentarians like Dr Rammanohar Lohia, S.A. Dange, Acharya J.B. Kriplani, H.V. Kamath, Nath Pai, Madhu Limaye, Morarji Desai, Dr Karan Singh, Surendra Dwivedi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Justice M.C. Chagla, Dr Ram Subhag Singh, Ram Sevek Yadav, Hem Barua, R. Umanath, Smt Tarakeshwari Sinha, George Fernandes, P.K. Vasudevan Nayar, N.C. Chatterjee, Krishna Menon. It was but natural for me to come in close contact with them in my capacity as the leader of Samyukta Socialist Party in the Lok Sabha then.

The Congress Parliamentary Party led by the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi, had a thin majority in the then Lok Sabha. Shri Hiren Mukerjee belonged to the CPI parliamentary group. He was a a contemporary of prominent communist leaders like P.C. Joshi, Ranen Sen, Somnath Lahiri and Bhowani Sen including the veteran Muzaffar Ahmed.

Whenever Hiren Babu rose to speak in the Lok Sabha on various issues including subjects like literature, arts and culture he was heard with rapt attention in the House. His oratorial skill was such that it had an instant impact on the minds of his listeners.

SHRI SANJEEVA REDDY, prior to his becoming the President of India, was the Speaker of the fourth Lok Sabha. I was a member of a parliamentary delegation led by him along with Hiren Babu to the erstwhile Soviet Union and Hungary. That was the occasion when I came in close personal contact with Hiren Babu in far-off Moscow. It was in the fitness of things that as a Communist intellectual he was well-versed about the genesis of the emergence of the first communist state in the world. We had a very wonderful time in both the Soviet Union and Hungary. Hiren Babu’s presence in the delegation was bound to be taken note of by the powers-that-be in Moscow with whom he had developed close intellectual contacts. He was bound to be an asset to the delegation.

I had the occasion to visit Calcutta just two years back on the invitation of the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Government of West Bengal to address the Members of the Legislative Assembly. My friend Hashim Abdul Halim, the Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, presided over this meeting. It was a good coincidence that both Shri Jyoti Basu and Shri Hiren Mukerjee also addressed the said meeting. It was after a long gap of many years that I met him there. It was, nevertheless, an unforgettable meeting that can never be erased from my memory. I never imagined then that that would be my last meeting with him. In his death India has lost one of the outstanding parliamentarians of our time, and an intellectual of high calibre and a fine human being.

Now he belongs to the ages.

The author is a former Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

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