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|A brief life sketch|
Yogeshwar Tewari, Lecturer, Department of Medieval and Modern History, Allahabad University, Co-Convener, All India Intellectual's Forum. 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 and his mother Dipa, a simple house wife.
An accidental confrontation with the Deputy Commissioner Garhwal Region at the age of eleven, enamored him towards the 'Indian Civil Service' a top bureaucratic hierarchy in the British Empire. The young boy, determined to make way into civil services began to learn and study English language most studiously, a pre-requisite then for the Indian Civil Services.
Horizons began to moves as he read more of history and literature and consequently, this dampened his enthusiasm for the services, for now stood exposed, the myth of the British Empire.
His convictions against the tyranny of the British Ray were gradually turning into a firm belief, when 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 keep up the struggle against the tyranny of the British Raj. Yet at the examinations he stood first.
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 his brilliance was matched by another first division.
In 1939 - 40 he was enrolled in B.Sc. at Allahabad University. The University besides being known as the Oxford of the east was also a pivot of the freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi by the year 1940 had already beckoned the youth to join the Non - Cooperation Movement. In 1941 when the president of the Allahabad University Union was declared an absconder, Bahuguna was elected the 'dictents movement in Uttar Pradesh. His plunge into the freedom movement was deep. 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. Post independence period saw Bahuguna playing a major role in Trade Unions. He 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 never compromised with their cause and never compromised with their 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. His organizational deftness brought closer, the rank and file of the Congress Party.
In 1971 he was made State Minister for Communication in the Central Cabinet.
1973 was him as the Chief Minister of the largest state in India. The state was 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. A quota of 18% was allocated in non-gazetted posts for selection and promotion of schedule castes and schedule tribes. 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 weaves 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. 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 Janta Party was Plagued with conflicts amongst several Pressure groups. Disenchanted was Bahuguna again and Mrs. Indira Gandhi took pains in convincing him, that the Congress still stood by its ideals of socialism, and secularism. Thus the spirit was brought back in to the body.
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. He there by established the highest norm in the history of Indian Parliamentary Democracy. Acharys Narendra Deo, earlier being the only exception, but Bhuguna with a difference, while the Acharya lost, when he recon tested, 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 warned the heads of parties against believing their own lies and Bahuguna parted company with them for he upheld Emersons's maxim of a 'genius' , To believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you I your private heart is true for all men".
He was later taken ill, for his heart was choked. Doctors advised him another By-pass surgery. He flew to the United States of America to find a 'by- pass' to establish the truth for all men, but Alas ! 17th March 1989, he breathed his last at the Cleveland Hospital. He was dead and perhaps something was dead in each of us, and want was dead was 'Hope'.
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