Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University in Aligarh on Tuesday in a significant move as Singh was from the Jat community and the farmers’ protest has been gaining momentum in Western Uttar Pradesh, which is also a Jat-dominated area.
Jat leader and RLD chief, Jayant Chaudhary, welcomed the decision. He told News18, “This has been an old project and we welcome the decision. Raja Mahendra Singh gave land for AMU and he should also be conferred upon with Bharat Ratna. He was a freedom fighter and his contributions to Indian society are not hidden from anyone. Especially in Mathura, people have a lot of respect and faith in him. There is a need to bring forward the legacy of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh." Chaudhary also called for a Bharat Ratna for Singh.
Singh became a student of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1895, which was later renamed the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1920. He is said to leased a plot, called Tikonia Park, to AMU in 1929. Hence RSS and BJP leaders had demanded in 2019 that the university be renamed after him and the university celebrate his birthday. It was after this that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced a state-level university to be set up and named after Singh on September 14, 2019.
While Modi is going to lay the foundation stone for the university named after him, Singh has fought against the BJP in elections. He defeated Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 1957 Lok Sabha elections from the Mathura constituency. While Singh was an independent candidate, Vajpayee was the candidate for the Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
Singh’s contribution to the freedom struggle was significant. He is known for forming the interim government of India while staying in exile in Afghanistan in 1915. In a letter to Mahatma Gandhi in 1939, Singh alerted Gandhi about Jinnah, calling him a ‘snake’, and asking Gandhi not to trust him.
Singh was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1932 for his participation in Gandhi’s movement in South Africa, his participation in the freedom struggle in India and for highlighting British brutalities in the country. In 1940, he set up the Executive Board of India in Japan during the Second World War.
The government of India had issued a postal stamp in his honour in 1979. Singh was born in a Jat family in the Mursab estate of Hathras in 1886. He was the third son of Raja Ghansyam Singh and a Jat icon.