Tarkeshwari Prasad Sinha, fiery freedom fighter from Bihar who rose to the highest echelons of power

New Delhi: On this day, 95 years ago, Bihar saw the birth of Tarkeshwari Prasad Sinha, a freedom fighter who became a fiery politician after independence, served as a council member to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. ministersand has been a deputy four times.

After former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Sinha was considered the only notable female politician in the Indian political landscape at the time.

Her public life began to take shape during the Quit India Movement of 1942, when she took an active role as a student leader at Patna Women’s College, aged 16.

After Indian independence in 1947, Sinha was elected to the first Lok Sabha in 1952 from the Patna East seat, beating freedom fighter Sheel Bhadra Yajee, on a Congress ticket with a 46.90% vote to share. She was 26 years old.

Sinha was re-elected to the Lower House in 1957, 1962 and 1967 in Barh constituency, winning each election by a high margin.

While the critically acclaimed film by filmmaker and lyricist Gulzar, Aandhi (1975), is often considered inspired by Indira Gandhi, Sinha too was a inspiration for the protagonist of the film.


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Early activism and transition to politics

Born to a surgeon on December 26, 1926, Sinha had a master’s degree in political science and was married to a lawyer, Nidhi Dev N. Sinha.

According to a 1971 Profile which was in the New York Timesit was her father who introduced her to politics while she was still in school, making her read the German philosopher and economist Karl Marx.

As a student leader, Sinha started as President of the Bihar Student Congress and even received Mahatma Gandhi at Nalanda during the Partition riots in 1947.

Sinha was a prominent member of the Congress party, according to the NYT profile, which described her as a glamorous woman with a tough mind and a tongue of fire. She had soft features and a melodious voice and yet was a strong speaker, who was an integral pioneer of the student movements in Patna. However, she chose to leave politics later and focused on social work.

“Parliament is a very tough builder…. You have to be able to talk constantly and learn to talk,” she said. NYT.

Sinha served as the first female deputy finance minister, between 1958 and 1964, when Morarji Desai held the portfolio. According to a Inut reportSinha used to break into the offices of government officials and question them about the workings of their departments.

Differences with Indira Gandhi

When Congress split into 1969Sinha remained with the old guard, Morarji Desai and K. Kamraj, while Indira Gandhi formed her own party.

Known for his verses-filled speeches in Urdu, Sinha was a vocal critic of Indira Gandhi.

“The people’s verdict has always been responsible, even in 1977, because it helped us revitalize the party. People have never collectively been wrong,” she said. India today in 1978. The report called him Gandhi’s “alter ego”.

Sinha was considered close to Morarji Desai, and even allegedly had an affair with Member of Parliament for Lok Sabha and husband of Indira Gandhi Feroze Gandhi.

In 1971, Sinha suffered his first electoral defeat to Congress candidate Dharamvir Sinha, from the seat of Begusarai. She again lost in 1977 and 1978 to Begusarai and Samastipur, respectively. Soon Sinha retired from politics and established a hospital in Nalanda which offered free treatment. She died on August 14, 2007.


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Thelma J. Longworth