Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh : Recognition to the Long-Forgotten Hero
Laying the foundation stone of a new State University in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, dedicated to the memory of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi must initiate a debate on the praxis of Communalism vis-à-vis Communal forces encircling the ‘Opposition’ which could not give due recognition to the stellar role played by Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, a freedom fighter, journalist, patriot, propagator of world peace, founder of India’s first government -in-Exileeven in the yearlong Government sponsored Celebration of the Golden Jubilee of India’s Independence in 1997. Doesn’t this glaring omission constitute the Opposition’s deliberate drinking from the River Lethe to experience forgetfulness to serve their vested political interests?
BJP’s move to recognize the contribution of the ignored national social-reformers such as Rakhmabai, Gopal Baba Walangkar, Sakha ram Deusar, besides Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh is to pay tribute to those who kept India united by inculcating social cohesion culminating into national integrity. BJP’s acknowledging the contribution of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh shall go down in the annals of history exposing the pseudo-secularism that the Opposition cherishes; it shall also send a message that BJP owns Mahendra Pratap’s legacy and believes that any national icon across party line is an object of endearment for it.
Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, a Jat King, hailing from the family of the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, was a great freedom-fighter, deeply involved with the Swadeshi Movement and considered leaders like M K Ganhi, DadabhaiNaoroji and B G Tilak as his idols.During the World War I, Mahendra Pratap established the first Provisional Government of India in Afghanistan, declared himself as its President and announced a war against the colonial rule. The British put a bounty on his head and he took asylum in Japan from where he continued the Freedom Struggle. Believed to be a staunch opponent of communal ideas, Mahendra Pratap tried to start a religion of his own and named it ‘Prem Dharma’ or the Religion of Love and also wrote a book on it. In 1957, he was elected to the Parliament as an Independent in the Lok Sabha Polls.
A patriot, Mahendra Pratap travelled to various countries to gather support for the revolutionaries fighting for independence in India. He went to Germany, Japan and Russia, and met the political leaders of these countries. In 1929, Mahendra Pratap launched the World Federation in Berlin and in 1932, he was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. His Nobel Peace Prize Nomination described him as a “Hindu Patriot”, “Editor of World Federation” and an “unofficial Envoy to Afghanistan”, and read “Pratap gave up his propertyfor educational purposes, and he established a Technical College at Brindaban. In 1913, he took part in Gandhiji’s campaign in South Africa. He travelled around the world to create awareness about the situation in Afghanistan and India. In 1925, he went on a Mission to Tibet and met the Dalai Lama. He was primarily on an unofficial economic mission on behalf of Afghanistan, but he also wanted to expose the British brutalities in India. He called himself the servant of the powerless and weak.” Mahendra Pratap was wise enough to apprehend Japan’s imperialistic designs. When Japanese joined the World War II on 8th December, 1941, the Japanese Prime Minister General Tojo asked Mahendra Pratap to accompany Japanese army to attack British India, he did not agree to Japanese plans, for he knew that the Japanese had not honored their word to make Manchu Kuo entirely free.
Few people can match the revolutionary zeal and sacrifices of this legendary freedom-fighter during the struggle for India’s Independence. The fact that there is a remarkable resemblance between Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose is not a mere coincidence because the latter took heavily from the ideas of the former. Mahendra Pratap, the world wanderer at a critical juncture of history knew no rest and strived for anti-British front and upheld the morals of the Freedom-Fighters of ‘Provisional Government of India’ during the World War I; the same was taken recourse to by Subhash Chandra Bose during the World War II. Subhash Chandra Bose formed Azad Hind Government and the revolutionaries joined it in thousands and assisted it in the attainment of its Mission. It was on the foundation led by Mahendra Pratap during 1922 to 1942 in the far East that Subhash Chandra Bose skillfully built the castle of Azad Hind Fauj (army). Thus, Mahendra Pratap served as ‘Upadan Karan’ and Subhash Chandra Bose as ‘Nimitta Karan’. Both these ‘Karanas’ played a pivotal role in making the things happen for India’s Independence.
BJP has consistently acknowledged Mahendra Pratap’s contribution as a nationalist, internationalist and social-reformer. In 2014, BJP celebrated the birth anniversary of Mahendra Pratap at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) gates on December1, when it was not allowed to celebrate it inside the University. In 2018, it demanded that the Portrait of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh be erected on the AMU Campus and that AMU be renamed after Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh.
The biased Opposition has failed to digest BJP’s owning up Mahendra Pratap’s legacy. BJP’s recognition of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh has further strengthened the fact that the party concretizes the principle ‘Sab Ka Sath, Sab Ka Vikas’(development for all) whereas the Opposition’s intent has always been on divisive politics to create a vote-bank for themselves through Minority appeasement.
Undeniably, a tall leader Raja Mahendra Pratap was sidelined by the Congress and all the other Political parties in Opposition. Mahendra Pratap never got due credit for his contributions to the nation or AMU because of the earlier ruling parties and now the Opposition’s ‘Minority Narrative’ which has led to the divisive disparaging politics in the country.
BJP’s according due recognition (a long pending project) to Mahendra Pratap by setting up a University in his name, shall help bring forward his legacy by enabling the researchers to undertake many more projects. This celebration of the legacy of a national leader, freedom-fighter and social-reformer is a welcome move of the Uttar Pradesh Government. The BJP must also seek to highlight the manner/s in which the earlier governments had ignored his contributions to the building of AMU and to India’s Freedom Struggle.
By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
(The writer is Professor & Head, Department of English, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner.)