Published: 14th September 2021
What The FAQ: Who was Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh that the BJP has named a university in UP after?
In 1957, Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh contested the Lok Sabha election from Mathura. He won against Atal Bihari Vajpayee and had over 40 per cent of the votes in that election
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, on September 14. The move is being seen as an election ploy, with state elections in UP only a few months away — Mahendra Pratap Singh’s 'Jat king' identity is of interest to the BJP, as the party has lost grounds amongst protesting Jat farmers, who have been demanding the scrapping of the farm laws for more than a year now.
Who was Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh?
Raja Mahendra Pratap was a Marxist revolutionary, a social reformer, a freedom fighter and an alumnus of Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh, which later came to be called Aligarh Muslim University. In fact, he also took part in the Balkan War of 1911 with his fellow students there.
Mahendra Pratap was born into a royal family in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras and his father and grandfather were close to the educationist and reformer Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University. Like many others in his region, the family contributed to Sir Syed’s efforts to set up AMU.
What was his contribution to the freedom struggle?
Pratap would constantly promote small industries with indigenous goods and local artisans. Deeply influenced by the speeches of the likes of Dadabhai Naoroji, Mahendra Pratap started the movement to burn the foreign-made clothes in his state.
On December 1, 1915, Pratap proclaimed the first Provisional Government of India outside India—in Kabul. He declared himself president, and his fiery fellow revolutionary Maulana Barkatullah of Bhopal, prime minister, of the Provisional Government.
How did he manage to pull support for Indian independence?
Mahendra Pratap travelled to various countries and gathered support for the revolutionaries fighting for Indian independence. He went to Germany, Japan and Russia, and met the political leaders of those countries. He is even said to have met Lenin in 1919, two years after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Did he come back to India?
After almost 32 years in exile, Mahendra Pratap Singh finally returned to India in 1946. In 1957, Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh contested the Lok Sabha election from Mathura. He won against Atal Bihari Vajpayee and had a vote share of over 40 per cent in that election.