Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University in Aligarh.
The university is being established by the Uttar Pradesh government in memory and honour of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, the great freedom fighter, educationist and social reformer. It is being set up in a total area of over 92 acres at Lodha village and Musepur Kareem Jarouli village of Aligarh's Kol tehsil.
Aligarh: PM Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University
UP Governor Anandiben Patel & UP CM Yogi Adityanath were also present pic.twitter.com/bnqV46C02I
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) September 14, 2021
The university will provide affiliation to 395 colleges of the Aligarh division.
The Yogi Adityanath government's decision to set up the university after the noted Jat figure is being politically seen as part of the ruling BJP's bid to win over the community ahead of the crucial assembly polls in the state early next year.
Named after the Jat king and freedom fighter, the university will be constructed on 92.27 acres of land in the district’s Kol tehsil.
Who was Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh?
Born into a royal family in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh in 1886, Singh was a social reformer, freedom fighter and Marxist revolutionary. An alumnus of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Collegiate School later called Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), he was active in the political arena from a young age.
Though he did not complete his graduation from AMU, Singh was felicitated during the centenary celebrations of the university in 1997. He also participated in the 1911 Balkan War with his fellow students at the college.
Belonging to the royal family of Mursan, he had left his home and family in Aligarh in December 1914 and escaped to Germany and remained in exile for about 33 years as he was wanted by the British authorities.
He returned in 1947 only after India gained independence. He was elected to Lok Sabha from Mathura in 1957, defeating the then Jan Sangh candidate Atal Bihari Vajpayee, contesting as an Independent.
Influenced by the speeches of Dadabhai Naoroji and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Singh became deeply involved with the Swadeshi movement.
The freedom fighter set up the first Provisional Government of India in Afghanistan in 1915, declaring himself as the President. He also declared a jihad against colonial rule, leading to the British announcing a bounty on his head. Singh later fled to Japan, where he established the Executive Board of India in Japan in 1940.
A firm believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-violence, Singh also set up the Prem Maha Vidyalaya, a polytechnic institution in his palace in Vrindavan.
The social reformer was also a firm proponent of Panchayat Raj, believing it would reduce corruption and put more power in the hands of the common man.
Singh, who called himself “the servant of the powerless and weak,” was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize in 1932.
Post-independence, he was elected to Parliament in 1957 after defeating then Jan Sangh (and later BJP) candidate Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Singh passed away in 1979.
Singh is said to have leased a plot to the AMU in 1929, leading BJP and RSS leaders to demand in 2019 that the university be named after him. The same year, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that a state-level university, named after Singh, would be set up in Aligarh.
He was also the president of India's first provisional government-in-exile established on 1 December, 1915 in Kabul.
With inputs from agencies