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First Patna MP heirs inherit beyond family outlook

- After winning twice, late Congress parliamentarian proposed woman candidate for his seat

Patna, Feb. 12: For every politician, family is not the final frontier. The first MP of Pataliputra, Sarangdhar Sinha, is one among the select few.

The great educationist, who represented the seat twice in 1952 and 1957, stands out in the crowd of politicians promoting their progenies. After refusing to contest the seat for the third term in 1962, the then Congress MP did not recommend the name of any of his family members for the seat. Instead, he asked the Congress leadership to field a woman — Ramdulari Sinha — despite having a daughter himself. Ramdulari went on to win and become the first woman MP of Patna.

Sarangdhar’s descendants are miles away from politics, while the state’s present-day top leaders Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan are vying hard to establish their sons Tejaswi and Chirag, respectively, in the field. In fact, the Jamui Lok Sabha seat has become a bone of contention between Paswan and the Congress. The LJP chief is keen to field Chirag in the seat in which the Congress wants its state party chief Ashok Choudhary to contest.

While the election fever is fast catching up with the established leaders to retain their hold and non-established ones to establish their footprint, Sarangdhar’s grandson Rajiv Ranjan Shah and his wife Pushpa are busy preparing for the wedding of their engineer daughter Aishwarya (27), working in Bangalore. Their other daughter, Saumya, is a management professional in New Delhi and son, Abhigyan, is a high school student, aspiring to become a technocrat.

“It was hard for me to believe that my grandfather-in-law was such a top leader when I got married to Rajiv in 1984 and landed in this house. Somehow, he developed fondness for me and took his morning tea served by me only,” recalled Pushpa.

“He was so fond of Rajiv that he personally arranged Rajiv’s towels, suits and uniforms when the washer man delivered them. He used to shout at servants if they ever forgot to place soaps, shampoo and towels when Rajiv entered the washroom,” Pushpa said.

“He (Sarangdhar) was completely aloof from politics towards the end of his life. He played bridge with his friends, ate decent food, listened to folk and classical music, took utmost care of children in the family and died in 1985,” said Rajiv, a product of Patna’s St Michael’s School and Patna University.

Sarangdhar was in no way inferior in class in comparison to the present generation of leaders. A noted freedom fighter, he was a doctorate in English from Calcutta University. He was the third non-judicial vice-chancellor of the Patna University (June 21, 1949 to January 1, 1952). The first and second non-judicial VCs of the only university then were Sachidanand Sinha and CPN Singh. Prior to 1936, the PU had the tradition of having justices of Patna High Court as its VCs.

Sharangdhar belonged to a zamindar family of Repura in Uttar Pradesh. His ancestors shifted to Patna in the 19th century and set up a printing press. He had over two acres of land in the Exhibition Road area. Palatial apartments have come up on it, which Rajiv and Pushpa look after.

The first Patna MP’s only daughter, Shanta, was married off to a zamindar family of Jhansi. But Sharangdhar preferred to keep his daughter and son-in-law with him in Patna. He had two grandsons — S.K. Shah and Rajiv. The former has passed away.

The Congress also seems to have forgotten its top leader. The party leaders did not celebrate his birth anniversary on February 6. Pushpa, Rajiv and their kids cut a cake on the occasion quietly, recalling the fond memories.