Alumni in fray keep Allahabad University’s rich political history alive
Having given the country a President and two prime ministers, Allahabad University is living up to its reputation as a nursery of politicians yet again. Several alumni of the university are in the fray for the Lok Sabha election this time too.
Senior Uttar Pradesh minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who is contesting from Allahabad on the BJP ticket, is a former Allahabad University student.
A former Allahabad mayor, she joined the BJP in 2016. After completing her education, she also served as a medieval and modern history professor of the university for years before quitting to devote herself fully to politics. She was awarded PhD by the university in 1981.
Former minister Indrajeet Saroj, who did his Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Allahabad University in 1985, is the Samajwadi Party-BSP alliance candidate from Kaushambi parliamentary seat.
Earlier, Saroj was BSP MLA from Manjhanpur assembly seat in Kaushambi.
Seeking re-election from his constituency, Dharmendra Yadav, sitting Samajwadi Party from Badaun, is another Allahabad University alumnus.
He graduated from Allahabad University in 1999, did his LLB in 2002 and MA (Political Science) in 2004.
Vinod Sonkar, the sitting BJP MP from Kaushambi, is another alumnus of the ‘Oxford of the East’ in the poll race this time. He is striving to retain the Kauhsmabi seat that he had won in 2014, defeating Shailendra Kumar of the Samajwadi Party by a margin of 42,900 votes, thanks to the Modi wave. He did his BA from Allahabad University in 1995.
Allahabad University has given many top politicians to the country like former Prime Ministers VP Singh and Chandra Shekhar, besides former chief ministers like ND Tiwari of UP and Uttarakhand and Madan Lal Khurana of Delhi to name just a few.
VP Singh, who became the eighth prime minister of India and also served as UP chief minister (1980-82), was also an AU alumnus who served even as vice-president of AU Students’ Union during his college days.
Chandra Shekhar, the country’s ninth prime minister, did is post graduation in political science from AU in 1951 before rising as a star in the Indian political arena.
Janeshwar Mishra or Chote Lohia was another big name from the AU campus. Having done his BA from the university, Janeshwar Mishra won the Phulpur parliamentary seat for the first time in 1969 and went on to serve as union minister of state for petroleum in 1977, and union minister for communication in 1989. He became Rajya Sabha member in 1994. In 1996, he was appointed the union water resources minister.
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna was also a student of AU and served as a member of the university students’ union working committee before starting his political career.
Former union minister Murli Manohar Joshi did his MSc and later PhD from AU. He also served as professor of physics.
Arjun Singh, another former union human resource development minister, ex-Punjab governor and two-time chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, was also a product of the Allahabad University campus. He was an active student leader during his college days. Even Narayan Dutt Tiwari, former UP and Uttarakhand CM and ex-Andhra Pradesh governor, studied at the university here and served as AU students’ Union president in 1947.
India’s ninth President Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma was also a product of Allahabad University and active in student politics.
He served as communication minister in the Indira Gandhi government and later became governor of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab, besides India’s vice-president.
With an eye on the youth vote bank, the Samajwadi Party (SP) reposed faith in AU student leaders in a big way in the 2017 assembly polls.
The former student leaders fielded by SP included Richa Singh, the first woman president of Allahabad University Students Union (AUSU) in post-independent India. She contested from the Allahabad West seat unsuccessfully.
Another former AUSU president Hemant Kumar ‘Tunnu’ was also given the ticket from Manjhanpur (Kaushambi) but lost. Hemant was elected AUSU president in 2004.
Besides these first timers, AU also had its former AUSU president and the then sitting Congress MLA from Allahabad North constituency Anugrah Narayan Singh again in the field to defend his seat in 2017, but he lost. The four-time former MLA was AUSU president in 1979.
Upendra Tiwari, two time MLA from Phephana seat of Ballia, was an active student leader on AU campus between 2003 and 2005 and had also contested for the post of AUSU secretary but lost.
Sangram Singh, former AUSU secretary of 2004, was also in poll fray from Phephana seat as joint candidate of SP and Congress in 2017 but lost.