Volume: 5, No: 09 ; September-2011
(to commemorate Gandhi’s Lucknow bond. 2nd October is Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary, so we carry this special feature to show you Lucknow’s connection with Gandhi and Nehru. The two heroes of Indian Independence. )
Date 26th December year 1916 a 27 years old young man arrived in Lucknow in a train from Allahabad and met another 47 years old man for the first time in front of Charbagh station of Lucknow. They chatted for a while and developed a rapport between themselves to get together and fight for the independence of India.
This young man was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and while the other was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the city of nawabs was place where this duo met for the first time during the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress.
Nehru went on to become the Prime Minister of India while Gandhi Ji came to be known as the Father of Nation. During the meeting, Nehru vociferously opposed the recruitment of Indian laborers for the assignments in other countries like Africa , Caribbean Island and Fiji. He presented the bill in front of congressmen and he was supported by Gandhi. From here on, the duo got going. Mayank Ranjan who organises Yuva Mahotsav in the Lucknow festival every year, says,”My father Yogendra Nath Srivastava is a hardcore Gandhian. He was the one who told me about the place where Gandhi and Nehru first met” He added, “We saw that no one cared about the sanctity of the place. No one even remembers that place where these two great men met first and history was created. The place remains filthy and is being used by a parking stand owner. But as a mark of respect, we have been cleaning the area for the last 25 years. Candles are lit at this place on Independence Day and on 2nd October. At least this is what we can do for those who won us the freedom, ”says Ranjan.
Nehru met Gandhi for the first time in 1916 that was the year of his marriage with Kamla. In his autobiography, Nehru has written about his first meeting with Gandhi Ji was about the time of Lucknow Congress during the Christmas of 1916. All of us admired him for his heroic fight in South Africa, but he seemed very distant, different and non-political to many of the young men of that time. At that time he refused to take part in Congress or national politics and confined himself to the South African Indian question.
Soon afterward, his adventures and victory in Champaran, on behalf of the tenants of the planters, filled all in the Congress, especially the young crowd with enthusiasm. He was prepared to apply his methods in India and they promised success.
The place the duo met has a stone with the history written on it. But now it is surrounded by advertisement bards thus no one can see it clearly. Besides, a parking lot too has come up at this spot. The place has also become a resting spot with people sleeping here just beneath the stone, not realizing the importance of this spot and the story behind it.
Another Connection – A sapling planted by mahatma Gandhi in 1936 has endured the onslaught of time to give shade to many passers-by.
Gokhale Marg is one of the city’s posh localities, but not many know that the place is rooted in history. A perfect example of this is a large banyan tree in the locality.
Mahatma Gandhi had planted the sapling when he visited the Kaul Family in March 1936 along with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. “My Grand Mother welcomed Gandhi Ji and Pandit Nehru when they came to our house. The visit was special as Gandhi Ji planted a sapling on the occasion” says Deepa Kaul, The daughter of a senior Congress leader and a former Member of Parliament Sheela Kaul.
A local social worker Bhaiya Ji, who was also a witness to the two leaders’ visit, says, “When Gandhi Ji came to Lucknow a large number of youth followed him. People were very keen to walk with him and I was a child than”
Trees were considered a symbol of harmony back then and the leaders fighting for India’s freedom had made it a practice to plant saplings. The Kaul Family nurtured the tree ensuring that it grew over the years to provide shade to passers-by. As the branches became long and heavy the boundary wall suffered damage. When the repairs were carried out the family made sure the branches remained intact. A majority of those passing-by the road may not know the history of this tree. But they sure would agree on one thing it does give comfort to many in Lucknow summers. They hope this blessing of nature and nurture remains with them for many more years to come and the Banyan, India’s national tree, stays as a delightful symbol of all that was best in the days of yore.
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