Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be heading to Aligarh on Tuesday to lay the foundation stone of the Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University. 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.
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.