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Bahuguna

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Believe me, as old habits die hard, so are the old memories, which really die hard. And if memories are related to your long association with stalwarts’ or statesman like late HN Bahuguna, former union minister thrice and the most successful chief of the largest state of the largest democracy of the world India, Uttar Pradesh, then the memories really never die.

I had a long privileged association with late HN Bahuguna, a self made icon of Indian politics who had the guts to challenge late Smt Indira Gandhi on the imposition of emergency in 1975 and her obstinate politically over ambitious son late Sanjay Gandhi and resign as UP CM to join the late Jai Prakash Narayan, the leader of total revolution and the architect of Janata Party, the conglomeration of several of the then anti Indira and anti Congress Party that became the political alternative to Congress during 1977.

Late HN Bahuguna was a freedom fighter, a great political stalwart and a most succesful chief minister of UP who not only succesfully quelled the then PAC revolt but also established his true secular credentials by establishing an environment of absolute communal harmony in the biggest state then suffering from the regular shia sunni clashes. He was the first CM UP who for the first time in 1975 established the foundation of separate developmental socio political and economic entity of Uttarakhand by declaring the official formation of separate Uttarakhand development council with a separate chairman for the formulation of development related policies and programmes for Uttrakhand.

This picture of mine with this towering personality is of 1980 when late Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna visited the institution, Motilal Nehru College, then situated in Moti Bagh, New Delhi as chief guest of the Moti Lal Nehru College Students’ Union of which I was the duly elected president. Late HN Bahuguna was then the Union Finance Minister in Choudhary Charan Singh’s cabinet who was then the prime minister of India after Late Morarji Desai.

I fondly remember dressed in starched white Khadi Kurta and chudidaar Pyjama, handsome Bahuguna with polished black shining shoes visited our college on my invitatation and impressed one and all by his highly inspiring speech. He also donated Rs three thousand for the college library to purchase books to be delivered to poor students from his own pocket. A politician with great oratorical skill then spoke on various national issues including the insurgency in Nagaland and the role of the students in politics.

Those days were really awesome as leaders like HN Bahuguna’s stature and aptitude are seldome witnessed today who really inspired the younger generation by their moral and ethical deeds and principles. Late HN Bahuguna shifted to Allahabad on his own while he was a student after having been immensely inspired by late Jawahar Lal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri. He formed a trade union of rickshaw pullers and laborours and was the elected president of the Allahabad Students Union.

He fought the Britishers relentlessly and there was a prize of Rs 1000 on his head to be caught alive or dead. He carved a niche for himself by the dint of his perseverence and commitment by being involved in various socio political movement and became MLA from Phoolpur for the first time. He was later on made the deputy minister of labour, then union minister of state for communications, Govt of India and then CM UP in 1975 to be followed by Chief Minister Uttar Pradesh.

He developed cracks with Indira Gandhi on the issue of dynasty after she promoted Sanjay Gandhi in politics and opposed emergency of 1975 to join Jai Prakash Narayan, the leader of total revolution with Babu Jagjivan Ram, the then Defence Minister in Indira’s cabinet who also quit Congress to follow suit with Bahuguna. Bahuguna was elevated as Minister for Petroleum and Chemicals in Morarji’s cabinet and was later on appointed as union finance minister in Choudhary Charan Singh’s cabinet who repalced Morarji Desai as prime minister. Bahuguna later on won the historical Garhwal by election defeating Indra’s candidate Chandra Mohan Singh Negi and finally lost to celebrity politician Amitabh Bachchan from Allahabad in the next general parliamentary elections. He later became the President of Lok Dal, thereafter formed his own political outfit Democratic Socialist Party and finally Dalit Mazdoor Kisaan Party. Bahuguna fought for the poor, under privileged, down troddens during his whole life and established strong secular credentials as a political leader, highly adored and respected by the minorities of the country. He died in 1989 at Houston in America after his second surgery of the heart.

SUNIL NEGI, PRESIDENT, UTTARAKHAND JOURNALISTS FORUM

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These are my pictures of the eighties with the former Union Minister ( three time minister, communications, Petroleum n Chemicals n Finance ) n CM UP,  late H.N. Bahuguna, a renowned political stalwart, rather a statesman  ( would not hesitate to say) addressing few of my friend volunteers at his house, 92 Shahjahan Road, New Delhi who’d volunteered to go to Pauri Garhwal constituency  to campaign for him from where he was contesting as an independent candidate (after leaving Congress in a huff but on principles) against the then Congress candidate Chandramohan Singh Negi. This election was postponed after it was rigged n later HN Bahuguna won by over thirty thousand votes, giving a huge rebuff to the then PM Indiraji as under her directives, the then entire central government was  allegedly involved to ensure his defeat. To substantiate my contention,  I would authentically say that the then home minister Gyani Zail Singh, the chief ministers of the then Congress ruled states viz. Arjun Singh, Madhya Pradesh, Bhajan Lal, Haryana, Darbara Singh from Punjab n several other central ministers, MPs n MLAs’ were deployed at Pauri, Srinagar, Karnprayag, Rudraprayag, Kotdwar n Dehradun with the clear instructions that there should be no dearth of resources to ensure Bahuguna’s defeat who was then considered to be the direct political threat to the then leader of the political establishment at the centre i.e. Smt Gandhi herself. The election assumed historic significance because the then election commissioner SL Shakdhar has taken a serious note of the rigging n other serious malpractices at the behest of Congress through the hired goons from several states outside Uttarakhand. The BBC played a pivotal role to highlight the injustices done against the people of Garhwal n Bahuguna by denying them the fundamental right to vote through coercion n threats. The print media too highlighted it extensively demoralising the then ruling Congress Party. However, this was HN’ s last election from Garhwal as he shifted to Allahabad next time to lose at the hands of the political novice, the popular cine actor n international celebrity Amitabh Bachchan who was the Congress candidate. I’ve been privileged to be in close political proximity of HN Bahugunaji from 1979 till his journey to the eternal home.  I along with my several youth volunteers were deputed as the in-charge of Kot n Choundkot blocks of Pauri Garhwal, being Rajput dominated blocks in both the elections n number of the then opposition political dignitaries like Raj Narain, Tarkeshwari Sinha, C Rajeshwar Rao, Chandra Shekhar etc were campaigning from Bahuguna’s side. Am immensely lucky to be under his political guidance n patronage as I got a golden opportunity to learn a  lot from him. Stalwarts like Indira Gandhi n HN Bahuguna take birth once in centuries. Bahuguna transcended all boundaries of caste, community, religion n races. He was the great secular leader, the inventor of Roza Iftar parties in India.  He was above all n as determined n committed as the Himalayas. As per my fb friend  Gajendra Bahugunaji’s version his memories would leave everybody flabbergasted n spell bound.