September 8, 2021 4:30:41 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University in Aligarh district on September 14, almost two years after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced its formation.
The university will be built on 92.27 acres of land in the village of Lodha in the district’s Kol tehsil. District officials told The Indian Express that the land was in their possession.
In the first phase, the project is expected to cost Rs 101 crore, of which Rs 10 crore was released in March. An administrative block, a library, common facilities, and hostel and residential areas would be constructed in this phase. The government plans to complete it by January 2023.
Sources said Adityanath and other regional leaders would be present at next week’s event. According to a government spokesperson, the chief minister will be in Aligarh on Wednesday to review the preparations for Modi’s visit.
Named after a Jat king who donated land to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1929 and is credited with the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan in 1915, the upcoming university holds political significance for the BJP in the run-up to the crucial state elections early next year.
The move to honour the Jat icon comes at a time when several members of the community have mobilised against the BJP as part of farmers’ protests against three agrarian laws pushed through Parliament last September. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary, who has been a major figure in the farmers’ protests, welcomed the government’s move and demanded “Bharat Ratna” for Mahendra Pratap Singh.
While announcing the formation of the Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University in November 2019, Adityanath had claimed that though he had granted land to AMU, the university did not recognise his contribution. In the past few years, the BJP has pushed for recognition of the Jat king’s contributions, and made demands to rename AMU after him. Some BJP leaders have also demanded that Singh’s birth anniversary be celebrated like that of AMU founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
According to officials, 395 colleges in the districts of Aligarh, Etah, Hathras, and Kasganj will be affiliated to the Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University. Apart from regular courses, the government plans to set up departments of advanced computing, biotechnology, decision sciences, renewable energy and advanced molecular genetics, and schools for multilingual studies, spiritual sciences and yoga.
Mahendra Pratap Singh was born in 1886 on the Mursan Estate in Hathras. He was a freedom fighter, and is said to be the leading force behind the formation of the Azad Hind interim government in Afghanistan in 1915. Apart from donating land to AMU, he is also said to have donated land to the Arya Samaj Gurukul in Vrindavan.
Meanwhile, on September 14, Modi is also scheduled to lay the foundation stone of a defence corridor that he had announced at an investors’ summit in Lucknow in 2018.
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