Bhola Prasad Singh : The architect of first non-Congress government in Bihar

/ Guest Column / Friday, 08 October 2021 17:25

By: Er. Prabhat Kishore
Whenever the wave of philosophy of socialism emerges in Bihar and there is talk of real welfare of destitute & marginalized sections of the society, then the name of renowned socialist icon Bhola Prasad Singh gets autowired. Bhola Babu, who left his indelible mark in the politics of the state and the country for almost 60 years, was born on 1 January 1932 in a traditional peasant Kurmi family at Kali Mandir Chauhatta (Patna City) on the holy land of Pataliputra. Shivling was established in the room where he was born, due to which the family members named him “Bhola”.
In 1952, Bhola Babu joined the “Bar” and in January 1956 was enrolled as an advocate in the Patna High Court. In 1955, Ram Manohar Lohia broke away from the Praja Socialist Party (PSP) to form the Socialist Party and started Satyagraha for the first time in independent India against the misrule of the Congress government. Bhola Babu became a member of this party and he was entrusted with the responsibility of planning and organizing the movement throughout Bihar. During the Satyagraha, he was arrested under the National Security Act and kept in Hazaribagh Jail along with Dr. Lohia. He was again arrested in 1968 in connection with the movement. He assumed the responsibility of the party as secretary and treasurer of the Samyukt Socialist Party (SSP). In 1962, at the young age of only 30, Bhola Babu was elected to the Bihar Legislative Council for the first time as Socialist Party candidate by defeating the Congress candidate. In 1967, he was made deputy leader of the SSP Legislature Unit and leader in the Legislative Council.
In 1967, Bhola Babu played a decisive role in the formation of the first non-Congress government in Bihar by bringing parties with radical ideologies on one platform. In the cabinet headed by Mahamaya Prasad Sinha, he was made cabinet minister of local administration, monitoring, housing and tourism departments. While being a minister in the monitoring department, he constituted enquiry commission against the outgoing Chief Minister of the former Congress cabinet, Shri Krishna Vallabh Sahai, and former heavyweight ministers Mahesh Prasad Sinha, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav, Raghvendra Narayan Singh and Ambika Sharan Singh, for the investigation of corruption. The formation of enquiry commission under the chairmanship of Shri T.L.Venkatram Iyer not only created an earthquake in the politics of the state, but also in the country.
In 1968, Bhola Babu was elected for the second time to the Legislative Council as a candidate of the Samyukt Socialist Party from the Legislative Assembly constituency. He became the Minister of Planning and Anti-Corruption Department in the Karpoori Thakur cabinet in 1970. He reorganized the Anti-Corruption Department as the “Vigilance Department” with the aim of further sharpening it. He constituted a commission under the leadership of Justice Dutta against the then Union Minister Lalit Narayan Mishra and other representatives of Bharat Sevak Samaj for large-scale irregularities in the Koshi dam.
Bhola Babu laid the foundation of militant socialism in the Bihar. In the sixties and seventies, he was known as a fierce Angry Young Man in Bihar politics. “Radical Politics in South Asia” edited by Paul R. Brass and others published by MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London in the year 1973 describes “Bhola Prasad Singh represents the more flamboyant style of political leadership in the SSP (Samyukt Socialist Party), associated in the past with Dr. Lohia and also with Raj Narain of Uttar Pradesh. Like both these men, Bhola Prasad Singh has been inclined to make frequent public statements of a dramatic sort, hurling charges of corruption against Congressmen, of lying against Communists, of engaging in a hoax against Sarvodaya workers, and of lack of militancy against PSP (Praja Socialist Party) men. His statements, because of their dramatic character, are frequently quoted in the Patna press. These positions, particularly, placed him in the role of chief spokesman, if not leader, of a bloc of SSP legislator who were discontented with the leadership of the former PSP cadres.”
In 1971, the seat of the Bakhtiyarpur Legislative Assembly became vacant after Shri Dharamvir Singh was elected MP from Barh Lok Sabha constituency. In the by-election held on that seat Bhola Babu was elected to this Legislative Assembly for the first time as a candidate of the Samyukt Socialist Party, defeating the Congress candidate and resigned from the Legislative Council seat in 1972. In 1972, he became the deputy leader of the SSP in the Legislative Assembly.
In 1974, during the first round of the Sampurna Kranti movement, he had a difference of opinion with Jayaprakash Narayan on the outline of the movement. As a result, after coming out of jail, he broke away from the movement and founded the Socialist Party of India and became its national president. The party was recognized by the Election Commission in eight states namely Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Bihar and West Bengal.
In 1977, despite the Janata Party wave, Bhola Babu defeated Nitish Kumar, the Janata Party’s candidate from Harnaut assembly constituency, and his party got two seats in the Bihar Legislative Assembly. In 1980, he contested from Hilsa assembly constituency in place of Harnaut, but was defeated by about 2000 votes. In 1980, he contested from Ranchi Lok Sabha constituency, but could not succeed. In 1986, he joined the Congress Party and in 1988 he was made the chairman of Bihar State Textbook Corporation. In 1990, he contested from Harnaut assembly constituency as a candidate of Janata Dal, but was defeated by an independent candidate Brijnandan Yadav due to the spread of ethnic votes. In 1995, he was made the candidate of the newly formed Samata Party led by George Fernandes from the Danapur assembly constituency, but lost to the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad in this Yadav-dominated seat. In 1998, he was nominated by the Governor for Bihar Legislative Council & became its member for the third time. In 2007, he was nominated as the senior vice-president of the Bihar Nagarik Parishad. He was the chairman, convener and member of various party organizations including several government commissions & committees.
Not only in politics, but also in the social sector, Bhola Babu discharged his responsibility vigorously. In 1962, together with the Members of Parliament Ram Shekhar Singh and Rajendra Singh organized a huge meeting in Patna against the Chinese invasion, in which outgoing President Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa also participated. In 1961, with the help of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, he organized the “Jati Todo Conference”, which was also addressed by Ram Manohar Lohia and Jaya Prakash Narayan. In the year 1963, he formed “Mulvasi Morcha” for the benefit of Kurmi society and tribals in Ranchi region, which lateron proved helpful in the rise of “Jharkhand Mukti Morcha”. He played an important role in uniting the weaker and deprived sections of the society by organizing “Kurmi Sammelan” and “Backward Class Conference” in Patna in 1971, in which Sardar Patel’s son Shri Dahya Bhai Patel and daughter Mani Bahen Patel’s participation was significant. He connected the backward area of Harnaut under Nalanda district with the main stream of higher education by establishing Gurusahai Devsharan Memorial College. He also published a weekly magazine named “Shambook”, dedicated to the weaker sections of the society.
Bhola Babu was popularly known as “Little Lohia”, because of being enamored with Dr. Lohia’s thoughts and being his favorite. This great politician, full of lifelong socialist ideology, said goodbye to the world on October 9, 2017 and merged with the Panchatattva.
(Author is a technocrat & educationist. He is the villager of Bhola Babu)


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