The two-room house in the middle of Banda, about 125 km from Kanpur, is in a run-down condition. The paint has fallen off the walls and the white patches have grown bigger, dwarfing the portraits of Subhash Chandra Bose and Vinoba Bhave that hang in one of the rooms.
Amidst all this is a small open space with a charpoy where Jamuna Prasad ‘Bose’ is sitting, soaking in the pleasant sun.
Jamuna Prasad was an MLA four times and minister twice. And his struggle for the rights of the poor earned him his surname ‘Bose’, which he was glad to use.
“I don’t exactly remember when I rented this house. It must be more than 50 years ago. I pay the rent through my pension,” he says.
At 92 he has difficulty in hearing and asks people to speak close to his ears. But he hasn’t given up helping the people he has lived with over the years. “I haven’t retired from politics; my friends don’t allow me to do that. I am still very much busy with my work,” he smiles.
‘Bose’ was born in Khinni Naka, in Banda, and his father was a junior clerk with the nagar palika. He joined the socialist movement and his friends pooled in money to fund his first Lok Sabha election in 1962. He contested again in 1967 and then he fought the assembly election in 1969 but lost on all occasions.
“We hadn’t any vehicle then, we would travel by the cycle or ‘Ikka’ (horse cart). My friends used to write political messages and slogans on walls and arrange public meetings; people would give us food, water with ‘ek aana, do aana, chaar aana,’ in donation. A rupee was a big money then,” he said.
He eventually became an MLA from Banda Sadar in 1974 and became a minister after winning assembly poll in 1977 when he was made minister for rural development and panchayati raj.
In 1989 he was inducted in the Mulayam Singh Yadav cabinet as minister for animal husbandry and fisheries.
Ram Sanehi Singh, his neighbour and friend for four decades, adds ruefully: “He could not build even a small house for himself. He sold his ancestral house in Khinni Naka for Rs 1,000 in 1955 for marriage of his sister. He never thought about himself. He thought only about the people,” Singh asserts.
At present Bose is ailing. Half of his pension is spent on his medicine and the rest goes in household expenditure. “I have no regrets; people and even my family members tell me that I could have done this and that,” he says. “I just smile, I have no regrets.”
Bose lost his wife long ago. His three sons live separately and are of no help to him. One son, Suresh, is living a retired life with his family in Lucknow, the other, Shilu, is doing a small business in Banda itself and the third, Dinesh, does nothing.