The forgotten architect of Bihar

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By NALIN VERMA in Patna
  • Published 11.11.09
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Patna, Nov. 10: Way bahut mahan aadmi thay (He was a great man),” said a senior minister about Sachidanad Sinha, on the sidelines of the 138th anniversary celebration of the first president of the constituent Assembly of Bihar, at a programme inaugurated by chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Other than the sobriquet of bahut mahan aadmi, the senior minister in the department associated with awareness generation, knew little of Sinha (1871-1950) who led the movement for the creation of Bihar.

Many of his peers denounced Sinha for his “sub-nationalism and selfish” motive, but the man celebrated the creation of Bihar out of Bengal in 1911. A contemporary of Mahatma Gandhi, Sinha, according to his own admission, was Gandhi’s classmate at the law college in London in early 1990.

“It is shameful that present ministers are not aware of the man who created their state,” said Gandhian and president of Gandhi Sangrayalaya, Razi Ahmed, 75. Truth remains that few, either in the political arena or in institutions, are aware of the man.

Nitish Kumar seems to be one of the few who remembers him, as the CM inaugurated a programme celebrating the 138th birth anniversary of Sinha today.

Nitish also announced that the birth anniversary of Sachidanand Sinha would be celebrated as Bihar Day every year, as the state event.

First from Bihar to travel to England to study law, Sinha led state’s freedom fighters to launch a movement to create a separate state soon after returning from England as a barrister.

A leading lawyer of Calcutta High Court, academic and writer, his Some Eminent Bihar Contemporaries and Some Eminent Indian Contemporaries are excellent biographical description of Mahatma Gandhi, Mazhrul Haque, Sir Ganesh Dutta, Ali Imam and other greats.

Senior JD(U) leader Gajanand Shahi, alias Munna Shahi, the grandson of Ganesh Dutta, lamented: “People are forgetting their past in the name of looking ahead. It is a great that Nitish Kumar is celebrating the architects of Bihar.”

A revolutionary, Sinha became an outcast in his village of Murar in central Bihar’s Buxar when he married Radhika, of a separate caste, from Lahore. People of Murar recall how villagers washed his house with holy water after Sinha entered it with his Punjabi wife. But, as Sonelal Srivastav recalls, the reactions failed either to diminish his love for his wife or for his land and its culture.

Sinha built a library in the memory of Radhika, now known as the Sinha Library, still regarded as one of the richest libraries in the state, in his Patna home.

The man was the first president of the constituent Assembly. His disciple, Rajendra Prasad, succeeded him as the constituent Assembly’s president and went on to become the first President.