Deosharan Singh: The pioneer of social revolution
Er. Prabhat Kishore
The holy land of Bharatvarsha is more precious and more virtuous than heaven. The credit of India’s great pride goes to our revolutionary Mahatmas, Sants, poets, rulers, craftsmen, scholars of science-religion philosophy, workers, farmers and people of various professions, from whom we are inspired today. Among these great personality was Shri Deosharan Singh, former Chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council.
Eminent freedom fighter Deosharan Singh was born on 17th August 1901 in the family of Shri Ramgoolam Mahto in Simra Bilgawan village located in Koilwar of erstwhile Shahabad district (presently Bhojpur district). He did his secondary education at Bihar National Collegiate School, Patna. He then graduated from Bihar National College and studied law from Patna Law College, Patna under Patna University. In his student life, he participated in the non-cooperation movement in 1920. In 1927, he started his practice in Barh Civil Court under Patna district.
In 1931, 1932 and 1942, Deosharan Babu participated in the freedom and Civil Disobedience Movements, during which he was jailed several times. In prison, he was subjected to severe torture by lying his bare body on the ice-blocks, which caused him pain for rest of his life. In Indian politics, such torture has been given to only two politicians, one was Deosharan Babu and the other was Banaras Das Gupta, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, whose voice was changed to that of a woman. He took an active part in the peasant movement since 1936. He was a member of the All India Congress Committee since 1937 and afterward a member of the Executive Committee of the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee since 1948. From 1954 to 1957, he was the chairman of the Patna District Congress Committee.
Deosharan Babu was elected a member of the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1946. He was elected as the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and held this post from 24 April 1946 to 31 March 1952. In the election to the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1951, he was elected on Indian National Congress ticket from the 5-Fatuha assembly constituency under Patna district.
He got 8481 votes out of total 21698 valid votes and his nearest rival Shri Brijnandan Singh Yadav (Independent) got 7753 votes. In 1952, he was inducted into the state cabinet headed by Dr. Shrikrishna Singh as the Health Minister of the Government of Bihar.
He was elected a member of the Bihar Legislative Council on 14 September 1953. From 1963 to 1965, he was the chairman of the Bihar State Planning and Development Board. Thereafter, from 30 August 1965 to 6 May 1968, he served as the Chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council. He again served as a member of the Bihar Legislative Council from 7 May 1968 to 1974. In 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi requested him to contest from Barh Lok Sabha constituency, but due to his determination to fight for the causes of the backward and oppressed classes in Bihar, he decided to remain active in the state politics. Then his MLA son Dharamvir Singh was provided Congress ticket by Smt. Gandhi from Barh Lok Sabha constituency, who won a landslide victory and became a minister at the Centre.
In the last years of his life, Deosharan Babu was also a victim of the caste and ill-fated politics of the Congress party and was denied ticket keeping him in the dark on the issue of re-candidature to the Legislative Council. Babu Deosharan Singh was well aware of the fact that the caste system is the root of the shackles of slavery in our society and only the democratic process could end it. Embracing his democratic values, beliefs and realizing the brunt of the caste system, he came to the conclusion that caste system and democracy could not standside by side. For Deosharan Babu, advocating democracy was part of an attempt to eradicate the caste system. In this context his attention was drawn to the hypocrisy existing in the social structure.
Deosharan Babu used to say, “We may say that untouchability is bad, caste system is bad, social discrimination is bad, but our beliefs have nothing to do with our life and conduct. Our brain is divided into different compartments. On one hand there is customary culture, on the other hand humanistic ideas. On one hand there is the ideal, on the other hand the animalistic tendency of plunder. There is no coherence, no affiliation in any of them. As individuals we are not perfect, but fragmented.
Whatever is enshrined in our democratic constitution, neither our hearts nor our minds have a firm foundation for it. We believe in a socialist republic, but in casteism too. The result is that the caste comes first, the republic lags behind. We raise slogans of socialism and want to establish a socialist society. But no one wants to understand that those who have vested interests in the present social or economic system cannot lead a socialist revolution”.
Shri Singh always worked for the service of the backward people of the society. As the president of Bihar State Backward Classes Federation, Deosharan Singh raised a strong voice for reservation in jobs for backward classes and led the struggle for it. But Congress did not take it seriously. He did not hesitate in making efforts and struggle even going beyond the party line to protect the rights of the backward and the oppressed masses. It was the result of his social awakening that many backward class leaders from the then Chhotanagpur region entered Bihar Legislative Assembly wearing garlands in the elections.
In Bihar politics, Karpoori Thakur, former CM, has been treated as the icon for backward masses, but in reality it was Deosharan Babu and not Thakur, who launched backward class movement in Bihar and adjoining states. The path created by his oppressed classes social empowerment, has helped to strengthen the roots of socialist movement under backward leadership. Today backward class leaders in power politics are eating the fruits of the tree of social justice movement planted by Deosharan Babu. Mandal commission in its historical report has saluted Deosharan Babu and his struggle for the cause of backward people.
He had a special interest in the study of excellent books on social and political issues. He felt self-satisfaction in helping poor and meritorious students and had unwavering faith in the establishment of an exploitation-free and caste-less society. When Laloo Prasad became the Chief Minister in 1991, he rechristened the Chhajju Bagh locality of Patna as “Deosharan Nagar” in his honour. But later on no government took pain to glorify his precious works.
Deosharan Babu left his mortal body on 9 July 1975 after a prolonged illness and set out on an eternal journey. The objectives, for which he struggled throughout his life, guide us even today. His life has been inspiring us to fight for our rights. He was a great patriot and a visionary with a strong will like steel. Even today, his ideals and hard work continue to give an exemplary message of successful life to the younger generation.
(The author is a technocrat and an academician)