Friday, April 25, 2014

H.N. Bahuguna - Biography

Date of Birth 25, April, 1919

H.N. Bahuguna, the sixth child , of his parents, was born on 25th April, 1919 in a small village called Bhugani in the district of Pauri Garhwal in Uttar Pradesh. His father Revati Nandan Bahuguna was a village Patwari.

Ass he read more of history and literature, started understanding the reality of the British Empire.

One day while preparing for the high school examinations at Dehradoon, he saw his elder sister Durga cry as she read the daily news. The incident she was moaning was Jalianwala Bagh where thousands had been slaughtered by the British. This shook the young mind, and he resolved to struggle against the tyranny of the British Raj.

In 1937, he moved to Allahabad for further studies and was admitted into the Government Intermediate College. His political germination began when he founded the first "Students Parliament" in the college and was elected its "Prime Minister". At the Intermediate Board Examinations, he passed with first division.

In 1939 - 40 he was enrolled in B.Sc. at Allahabad University. The University  was  a pivot of the freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi had already beckoned the youth to join the Non - Cooperation Movement. Bahuguna plunged into the freedom movement.  The British declared him a rebel and Bahuguna had to go underground. Subsequently a reward of Rs. 5000/- was offered by the British to anyone who aided in his arrest dead or alive.

An active participant in the freedom movement, Bahuguna was jailed several times in the prisons of Allahabad and Sultanpur. Finally in 1942 he was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment till 1946. At the 'Amhat' jail in Sultanpur he was plagued with 'tuberclebacillus', a fatal infection in the lungs. The British offered to release him on health ground subject to an oath, that he would never indulge again in the freedom struggle. Bahuguna declined. He was finally released in 1946 on completion of the jail sentence.

Pale and haggard, he came out to pursue his studies again. In 1946 he completed his graduation in Arts.

India finally attained independence on 15th August 1947. In the post independence period,  Bahuguna was instrumental in organizing labour Unions at Allahabad in the Power House, Government Press, Central Ordinance Depot, Symonds, and Dey's Medical. Unrelentlessly he espoused their cause and welfare. A contemporary of Bahuguna, a union labour leader, at Allahabad, Janab Abdul Hamid, said once, "Bahuguna Ji always fought for the cause of the labour and he was the only labour leader on whom we hed absolute faith in those days". In 1953 he became a member of the Indian National Trade Union Congress.

In 1952 Bahuguna entered into the main stream of Indian politics. He was elected M.L.A. from Karchana and Chail constituency in Allahabad. In the house he impressed all with his deep understanding of the legislative process. The proceedings in the house reflect his deep concern for the proletariat, the downtrodden and the minorities. He was again elected to the U.P Legislative Assembly. This time from Sirathu in 1957. The same year Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, then Chef Minister U.P impressed with Bahuguna's political acumen appointed to him Parlimentary Secretary and entrusted to him the portfolio of labour and industry. In 1960 he was elevated as a Deputy Minister with the same portfolio. In 1967 he was made the Finance Minister with the U.P Government. The sharp administrator in him was gradually becoming manifest. His genius was getting acclaim and subsequently he was appointed the General Secretary of the A.I.C.C. in 1969.  In 1971 he was made State Minister for Communication in the Central Cabinet.

In 1973 he became  the Chief Minister of the largest state in India,  Uttar Pradesh. The state was then in a deplorable state. Law and order problem, administration, and finances were at here lowest ebb. But when nature has work to be done she creates a 'genius'. Efficiency and progress became the hallmark of his administration. He left indelible print as the messiah of the landless, downtrodden, and the minorities. He personally saw, that 'Pattas' to the landless were just not made on paper. The state never was torn again with communal clashes nor were atrocities heaped on the Harijans. His 'alma-mater', the Allahabad University and other universities of the State were reeling with debts. They all had overdrafts to their credit, Allahabad University in particular was credited with an overdraft of Rs. 55lakhs. He not only wiped off their overdrafts but also bolstered their finances with additional grants. He was the first chief minister then to revise the pay scales for the teachers from the primary to the university level. Subsequently pay scales of the state employees were also revised forthwith. The autonomy of the universities was never respected so much before as under him. Mr. Ram Sahay, the ex-Vice-Chancellor of Allahabad University, vouched for this when he said, 'He left me alone to work independently and never did I hav to wait upon education secretaries to get my job done. Instead they came up to me under instruction from Bahugunaji and he from himself, was always available to me for discussions".

The condition of the oppressed and deprived was no longer the same. As the Chif Minister of the State, he initiated several schemes and projects and developmental plans for the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes. He instituted a corporation with capital of Rs. 4 crores to do so. He was the first chief minister to have initiated 'Debt Redemption Act' to rescue the schedule cast and schedule tribes from the clutches of the money lenders.   Many members of proven ability belonging to the schedule caste were nominated by him as members of the Public Service Commission and also in Executive Councils of various Universities of the State. It was at his behest, that scholarship of schedule cast and tribe students was doubled and government sponsored coaching centers were established to help them prepare for competitive examinations. Chaudhari Chunni Lal, former of U.P Public Service Commission is of the view that Bahuguna was a 'true Gandhian'. "In tune with Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar he is the only leader since independence who has ever cared so much for the progress and upliftment of the Schedule Cast and Schedule Tribes". Thus, a place very dear and near was carved for him amongst the community members of the schedule caste and schedule tribes.

The interest of the minorities were also taken care of. His tenure was free from communal riots. To aid the weavers of the state he established a corporation which supplied raw material to them at a nominal interest rate of 4%. His argus eyes also looked into the interests of the artisans as well.

His name was gradually becoming a legend in his own life time. The saying was commonly heard, "give him a place to stand, and he can move the earth".

1976 saw parting of ways with the Congress and 1977 he was elected to the Parliament from Lucknow constituency as Janata Party member. He was subsequently appointed as Cabinet Minister in the Department of Petroleum and Chemicals by the Prime Minister Morarji Desai. His brief stint as Petroleum Minister saw various projects which enabled the country to achieve self-sufficiency in Petroleum products.

1979 saw him as the Finance Minister with the Union Government of India. But by then the Janata Party was Plagued with conflicts amongst several Pressure groups and split.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi took pains in convincing him, that the Congress still stood by its ideals of socialism, and secularism and brought him back into Congress party.

In 1980 he won the Parliamentary elections from Garhwal with a thumping majority. But the spirit was restless again with the Congress. He left the party and resigned his seat as well. Bahuguna won again in 1982.

Between 1982 - 84 he revived his 'Democratic Socialist Party'. Later he joined the Lok Dal and became its Vice - President and subsequently its President.

His last endeavor was to forge a common minimum programme amongst the like minded opposition parties. But they did not reciprocate.

He was later taken ill. Doctors advised him another By-pass surgery. He flew to the United States of America for the surgery. But on 17th March 1989, he breathed his last at the Cleveland Hospital.

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