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Socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohia- forgotten hero in own land

Written by: Staff
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Faizabad, Mar 22 (UNI) Socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohia remains a forgotten hero in his birthplace as the Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh gears up to celebrate his 96th birth anniversary tomorrow.

Born on March 23, 1910, in the Shehzadpur locality of neighbouring Akbarpur (now Ambedkar Nagar) district, the socialist icon has become an unfamiliar personality in his birthplace.

Secretary of Freedom Fighters' Council, Manoj Mehrotra, who claims to be one the followers of the hallowed socialist leader told UNI in Ambedkar Nagar today that there is hardly anyone left to celebrate in true spirit, the birth anniversary of Dr Lohia. '' Even the house in which Dr Lohia was born has now made way for a bustling market.'' After a decade-long struggle, on October 26, 1991, a life size statue of Dr Lohia was installed at the Shehzadpur crossing, but the place is now inundated with encroachments and all demands to clear them have fell on deaf ears, Mr Mehrotra added.

The statue of Dr Lohia has only one caretaker in the form of 95-year-old Banshi Nai (a barber) and long trusted follower of the socialist stalwart.

''It is Banshi only who every morning cleans the statue and offers a fresh floral garland to his departed leader,'' Mr Mehrotra said.

At a time when the UP capital, Lucknow, boasts of a sprawling park developed in the memory of Dr Lohia, a similar project in his birth place is yet to take off, despite land being alloted by the state government for the purpose, former chairman of Akbarpur Nagar Palika Avdhesh Prasad Mehrotra said.

''Two bighas of land was alloted by earlier district magistrate Netram for a park in the memory of Dr Lohia, but the dream still remains unfulfilled,'' he added.

Mr Mehrotra, further, lamented that a writ petition seeking the renaming of Ambedkar Nagar district as ''Lohia Nagar'' filed in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court on October 12, 2003, remains undecided, owing to the UP government failure to file a counter reply in the case.

''When Madras, Calcutta and Bombay can be rechristened, why cannot Ambedkar Nagar be renamed as Lohia Nagar,'' questioned Mr Mehrotra.

UNI XC-ARS RP VC1625

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