AMU, Raja Mahendra Pratap and attempts of polarization

Those resorting to communal politics have not only perfected their techniques of polarizing the communities along religious lines, but have been constantly resorting to new methods for dividing the society. On the backdrop of Muzzafar nagar, where ‘Love Jihad’ propaganda was used to enhance the divisive agenda, now in Aligarh an icon of matchless virtues, Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh is being employed for the similar purposes

The attempt by BJP and associates to hold the memorial function in his honor within campus was successfully deflected by the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) University with the plan for a seminar befitting his contribution to the freedom movement of this AMU alumnus. BJP dug up this icon from pages of history and gauzing prevalent respect for him after the lapse of decades after his death. The answer to why now at this particular juncture is very revealing. Mahendra Pratap died on 29 April 1979, and now out of the blues BJP seems to have felt that his Jat, Hindu identity can be pitched as a flag of their politics. Pratap was a freedom fighter extraordinary, a journalist and a writer. He was a humanist, believing in International federation of nations transcending the national and religious boundaries. He was a Marxist who called for social reforms and empowerment of Panchayats. He was president of Indian Freedom Fighters' Association He was also the first one to form the provisional Indian Government in exile by establishing it in Kabul in 1915. Just to recall the Indian National Congress adopted the goal of complete freedom for India much later in its 1929 session. This Provisional Government was called Hakumat-i-Moktar-i-Hind, and was constituted with Pratap as the President, Maulvi Barkatullah as prime minister and Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi as interior minister.

After independence he also participated in the electoral arena where he defeated Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Mathura in the 1957 Lok Sabha election. His commitment to being opposed to communal forces could not be more evident than this opposition of his to the leader of Bhartiya Jansangh, Vajpayee. Ironically same person is being lifted up as the icon, who opposed their politics. BJP leaders like Yogi Adityanath are claiming that had Mahendra Pratap not donated the land the AMU would not have come up. This is contrary to the facts. The predecessor of AMU, Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College was formed in 1886, with a land bought from British cantonment (Nearly 74 Acres) and much later Pratap had leased 3.04 acres of land, this is called Tikonia ground and is used as a playground by the City High School of AMU in 1929. He joined the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College in 1895, but could not complete his graduation. He left MAO College in 1905. MAO became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920, which regards Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh as an alumnus. In 1977, AMU, under V-C Prof A M Khusro, felicitated Mahendra Pratap at the centenary celebrations of MAO.

He wasn’t born when MAO was established, and there is no record of any donation of land from him. Mahendra Pratap’s father Raja Ghanshiam Singh of Mursan had got a hostel room constructed, which continues to stand as Room Number 31 in Sir Syed Hall (South).

AMU, Raja Mahendra Pratap and attempts of polarization
Ram Puniyani