Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Patna: Tara Sinha, grand daughter of India’s first president Rajendra Prasad, has accused the Narendra Modi-led NDA government of insulting her grandfather by refusing to fulfil the demand to commemorate his birth anniversary on December 3 as Medha Diwas or Rashtriya Diwas.
A retired college teacher and president of the Mahila Charkha Samiti, Tara Sinha, while talking about the apathetic attitude of the government said, "We are really disappointed and sad in the way the central government has categorically refused to commemorate Rajendra Prasad’s birth anniversary, who is also known as Rajendra Babu.”
She said, “Our demand is not something big or different, it is simple and similar commemoration of birth anniversary of several contemporary national leaders have been done. Rajendra Prasad was a freedom fighter, he was jailed for years, was elected as president of the Constituent Assembly of India, which prepared the Constitution of India and later became the first president of the country. But there is no commemoration of his birth anniversary like it is done for first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Sardar Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad or other leaders."
She told NewsClick that what added more insult to the injury was when they received a letter from the special cell of Ministry of Culture, Government of India, which categorically stated that there was no plan to commemorate his birth anniversary. The letter read, “I am directed to refer to your letter on the above subject addressed to the Prime Minister and to say that this Ministry commemorates the birth centenary and special anniversaries of eminent Indian personalities and events of national importance. The 150th birth anniversary of Dr Rajendra Prasad will fall in 2034 and therefore, no commemoration relating to Dr Rajendra Prasad is planned in near future.”
"Rajendra Prasad has been insulted regularly and repeatedly. He was not given a state funeral and then PM Jawahar Lal Nehru did not attend his cremation in Patna. His samadhi (memorial) remains neglected unlike others in Delhi,” Tara Sinha said.
She further said that they are planning to launch an agitation to support their demand in a peaceful Gandhian way. They will launch a signature campaign and mobile people to presIsurise the government for fulfilling their demand.
Bihar Vidyapeeth chairman Vijay Prakash, a retired IAS officer, said that there should be a national debate on this issue. Rajendra Prasad’s birth anniversary deserves national attention.
Mahatma Gandhi had set up the Bihar Vidyapeeth on February 6, 1921. The institute came up on land donated by freedom fighter and lawyer Maulana Mazharul Haq. This place has a special connection with Rajendra Prasad as Rajendra Smriti Kutir is also located here, where he stayed after completing his tenure as the first President of India. He breathed his last in the same house, in 1963. His Bharat Ratna is still housed here. Even though it has been converted to a museum yet it is in poor condition.
Till a decade ago, the memorial located in the heart of Patna was in shambles unlike Shantivan, dedicated to India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajghat where thousands flock every day. However, even after renovation and repeated announcements to develop it by the state government, the place is still neglected with no caretaker.
Not only that, the government had also built a memorial called Rajendra Udyan in 1985 at Bansh Ghat close to a common cremation centre. However, even that failed to develop as a tourist place. Tara Sinha recalled that in 2009 the Bihar government did celebrate Rajendra Prasad’s 125th birth anniversary, but nothing concrete has been done to develop the historical places associated with him.