By Shameem Faizee
While writing on the occasion of the 75th birth anniversary of Dr. Raj Bahadur Gour, famous Urdu satirist Mujtaba Hussain wondered how Dr. Gour had turned to be 75 and was much senior to him. He thought somebody must be joking as Dr. Gour himself never appeared to be so senior. That perfectly reflects the jovial nature of Dr. Gour. With him I had the opportunity to work and interact for over three decades while being a functionary of Ajoy Bhavan, the headquarters of the Communist Party of India in Delhi. I too never thought that his birth centenary will be celebrated during my life time.
The habit to complete any task in hurry and his jovial nature always gave an impression that the man can never be serious. But that was not true. He had a multi-dimensional personality and used to pay serious consideration to all the areas of activities and work in a very planned manner. He was basically a trade unionist, a party activist and a crusader for the cause of Urdu language.
Though born in Hyderabad on July 21, 1918, Dr. Gour was very proud to call himself descendant of a Kayastha family from Eastern Uttar Pradesh. He completed his education to be a medical practitioner (MBBS) from Osmania University, but never joined the profession. Instead he became a full time political activist and whole timer of the Communist Party of India.
Raj Bahadur, as a school student, had started taking interest in political and social activities. He participated in various satyagraha and movements launched by various organizations, right from Arya Samaj to Praja Mandal, for social reforms, against atrocities of Nizam ruled state of Hyderabad and of course for the freedom of India from British yolk. At one stage he got so involved in these activities that he wanted to give up his medical education. But his principal, Dr. Hardekar, dissuaded him telling, “By learning swimming does not mean that you must swim all through your life. Your knowledge of swimming might be of help to you in an odd situation only.” The argument helped Dr. Gour to complete his medical education. As far as I know, this knowledge of “swimming” was never used, as that odd situation never arose. Even long periods of imprisonment and underground life did not force him to revise his decision to be a full time political activist.
Soon after completing his medical graduation, Dr Gour jumped into workers movement and took a leading part in organizing the workers in different sectors, both organized and unorganized. Right from button manufacturers to bank employees, Dr Gour was everywhere in the entire state of Hyderabad that, apart from Telangana, as also Marathi and Kannada speaking areas.
During student life, he was also active in the All India Students Federation (AISF) and attended its Nagpur (1939) and Patna (1941) conferences. His association with AISF made him a close associate of revolutionary poet Makhdoom Mohiuddin, who was 4-5 years seniors to him. When the state unit of the AITUC (called Hyderabad TU Council) was formed, Makhdoom was its president and Dr. Gour was elected its first general secretary. Despite participating in all party activities, including the armed struggle against feudal rule of Nizam, trade unions remained the first love for Dr. Gour.
Dr. Gour moved to the party headquarters as one of its functionaries in early eighties as the secretary of the Trade Union Department. By that time, he had also been elected to the national executive of the CPI.
While in Delhi, apart from attending to the tasks of trade unions, particularly politicization of trade union cadres, he used to do other odd jobs too. For three years, he wrote a weekly column called Mera Column for Urdu weekly Hayat, of which this writer was editor. He also saw to it that the party patronized a theoretical magazine in Urdu. At his initiative, Urdu monthly Communist Jaiza was launched that included him as well as me and Hajra Begum as members of the Editorial Board. It was more or less a replica of Party Life, a fortnightly in English.
He had been in Delhi for almost a decade in early fifties also. He was elected to the first Rajya Sabha and re-elected for a full six-year term after the completion of the term of RS in four years. Though party wanted to re-nominate him for the third term, he refused. His parliamentary contribution requires a separate article. His relations with the then Vice President and Chairman of RS, Dr. S Radhakrishnan have many interesting and often humorous episodes that are part of parliamentary proceedings.
While in Delhi in his second stint, he divided equal time between party assignments and for the cause of Urdu language. He was almost an extremist while championing the cause of Urdu that was badly discriminated against since the country attained independence. He used to become quite emotional on the issue.
He was elected All India president of Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu as well as nominated to be head (vice chairman) of the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), an autonomous body under the HRD ministry. In these two capacities, he did everything possible to advance the cause of Urdu. His insistence on recognition of Urdu as an official language under Article 347 of the Constitution in states where there is considerable Urdu speaking population was to detach the struggle from sentimental movements on imaginary demands like declaring Urdu the second official language of various states.
Despite being in jovial mood all the times, Dr. Gour used to be very serious on political and ideological issues. His writings on crucial issues reflect his seriousness and ideological commitment. Here I will conclude by just referring to his first booklet “Tricolour Shall Fly Over Hyderabad” that was published in September, 1947, pleading for accession of Hyderabad state to Indian Union. Incidentally, that was also the time when the party decided to launch armed struggle against the atrocities of Jagirdars and for occupation of land under the Nizam rule. He supported the party decision to launch armed struggle and attended the second party Congress at Kolkata. He was arrested and remained in jail even when he was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1952.
Apart from giving glimpses of the oppression under feudal rule of Nizam, there are two formulations in the booklet that appear to be more relevant in these times when the country is facing a serious threat to our democratic set up and Constitution.
While narrating the woes of the people under Nizam rule, Dr. Gour repeatedly pointed out that it is not just the liberation of Telugu people but also the struggle of the Marathi and Kannada people who should get their dream fulfilled of Samyukta Maharashtra and Samyukta Kannada state. Marathwada and a part of present Karnataka were under Nizam rule. Dr. Gour conceptualizes the formation of linguistic states in Independent Indian Union in this booklet.
There is another chapter on activities of Majlis Ittehadul Musalmeen against freedom from Nizam’s yoke and accession of Hyderabad state to Indian Union. It explains how the rightist forces use communal agenda for their dirty politics. It also explains how one brand of communalism supplements the other and ultimately destroys the very secular ethics of the society. A second reading of this chapter will help in understanding how Hindu and Muslim communalism are the two sides of the same coin. Today RSS-BJP are out to polarize India on communal lines and a few Muslim outfits are becoming their tools. That includes Majlis Ittehadul Musalmeen even today. (IPA Service)
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