This article has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value. Tahsil of Allahabad District, United Provinces, comprising the parganas of Sikandra and Jhusi, and lying between 25 18' and 25 45' N. and 80 53" and 82 10' E., on the north bank of the Ganges, with an area of 286 square miles. Population fell from 176,851 in 1891 to 171,653 in 1901. There are 486 villages and two towns, including PHULPUR (population, 7,611), the tahsil head-quarters. The demand for land revenue in 1903-4 was Rs. 3,04,000, and for cesses Rs. 49,000. The density of population, 600 persons per square mile, is above the District average. Stretches of alluvial land border part of the course of the Ganges, but most of the tahsil lies in the fertile uplands. In 1903-4 the area under cultivation was 172 square miles, of which 65 were irrigated. Wells supply a rather larger area than tanks or jhils, and no other sources are important.
August 10, 2008
Gautam Siddharth | TNN
From the archives of “The Times of India” : 2008
Once it was the Lok Sabha seat of Jawaharlal Nehru. Today it is the political turf of don-turned-MP Ateeq Ahmed. Sunday Times finds out why Nehru’s Phulpur has failed to keep its tryst with destiny
About 35 km from the impressively housed memorabilia of the Nehru family at Allahabad’s Anand Bhawan is Phulpur, the Lok Sabha constituency of independent India’s first prime minister, who was elected thrice from here. But today, Phulpur appears to be in a time warp, a place trapped eternally in the Sixties.
The mobile phone network is about the only thing that functions in Phulpur; the SDM’s office doesn’t even have a landline. It was disconnected after unpaid bills ran into tens of thousands of rupees. The SDM keeps in touch with his district on cellphone, but keeping it charged is a challenge. Electricity, assured for 18 to 20 hours in Allahabad, is never available for more than five hours a day here. But its people can’t even complain: their voice in the Lok Sabha, donturned-politician Ateeq Ahmed, is cooling his heels in Naini jail nearby.
It’s a jail that resonates with history. Nehru and numerous other freedom fighters did time here. They fought for freedom and the Brits threw them in Naini when their satyagraha and non-cooperation became too hot to handle. But Ateeq is here for violating, brazenly and crudely, the very laws that this jail’s illustrious time-servers framed after India gained freedom.
Beyond its lifeless streets, algae-infested drains and garbage piles however, Phulpur is buzzing with talk these days. The big question is who will contest from here and who will win. Will it be Kapil Muni Kawariya, just nominated by the BSP? Or will it be the don himself or, if he doesn’t walk free, his wife Shaista Parveen? Who will be the Samajwadi Party’s candidate? Will Phulpur go unchallenged by Congress following its astonishing alliance with SP?
The answers will be known in time. But there’s a larger question no one seems to have quite got the hang of: How did Nehru’s Phulpur become the playing field of a don who defies everything that the maker of modern India stood for?
In many ways, Phulpur represents the fragmentation of Indian politics in the backyard of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Ateeq may not belong to the Congress, but he is a product of the nexus between crime and politics, a practice first developed by the Congress and later perfected by others.
Asked about this degeneration in public life, UPCC president Rita Bahugna Joshi feigns naive wonderment. ‘‘We never believed criminals would get voted to power,’’ she says. Congress bosses say that when criminals began asking for election tickets in return for ‘services’ rendered, they were obliged in the hope that they would lose! “We couldn’t foresee that casteism, communalism and criminalisation will become predominant in politics. To that extent, Congress should take responsibility for how the political system got devalued,’’ Joshi now says.
One of Phulpur’s generation of oldtimers is M L Jaiswal, 74, who was often part of Nehru’s local entourage when he came visiting. ‘‘He had a special fondness for his jail mates at Naini, one of whom was Krishna Chand Vaid. Nehruji stayed at his house whenever he came here. So did Indiraji,’’ says Jaiswal, who was Phulpur panchayat chief in the ’70s.
Asked whether anybody ever dared to ask Nehru why his constituency was not getting the fruits of development, Jaiswal says, “Vaidji did ask once. So Nehruji sent him to Orissa and Bastar. When he returned, Nehruji asked him what he saw, and Vaidji replied that he saw hunger and deprivation. Nehruji then said, ‘Isn’t Phulpur better off ? People here at least have food to eat, houses to live in and clothes to wear. My concern is for people who have nothing.’ Vaidji fell silent. Panditji had the whole nation to think about, not just Phulpur.”
After Nehru’s sister Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, none of the Nehru-Gandhis has contested from Phulpur. But as Nagesh Kumar Vaid, 48, a descendant of Vaidji, points out, “Perhaps they realized they could not give anything to this place, nor take anything from here.” The great nothingness that the great patrician signifies in today’s Phulpur is best symbolised by the ruins of Vaidji’s house that Nehru made his home here. “We’ve seen it all, from the sublime to the ridiculous,’’ Nagesh adds. “We took pride in Nehru and find Ateeq an embarrassment.”
Ashok Vajpayee, son of late Congress leader Rajendra Kumari Vajpayee, says the decline of Congress began when the party broke its unwritten pact with the people. Vajpayee, who says he was expelled from Congress a year ago for reasons unknown to him, has since joined BSP which is fielding him for the Lok Sabha from Allahabad.
“Until Mrs Indira Gandhi, the top leadership of Congress was accessible. Indiraji met 2,000 people a day and knew the churnings at the grassroots. Today, the party’s political dogma has collapsed; it’s playing second fiddle to SP whose political base is goondas,” says Vajpayee. “The family left its kul deohri (family base) that is Allahabad and Congress is dead because it allowed votebank politics to overshadow issue-based politics.’’
The flip side of such vote politics was a ‘bank run’ on Congress — first by the OBCs with Mandal, then the upper castes with Mandir, and the Dalit votes with Mayawati. These numerically powerful sections turned away from the party, cutting its vote percentage in the region down from 40% to around 8%. Kailash Ram, 45, from the numerically strong Patel community, was a typical Congress supporter whose vote always unquestioningly went to the party. Today his entire clan supports BSP.
Kailash shuttles between Phulpur and Allahabad where he works as a waiter. “It’s because there are no factories or big businesses here that our children had to look for work in Mumbai. They were humiliated there. At roadside dhabas, they were always the last to be served. My two boys were beaten up and thrown out of Maharashtra. What did we get from voting for Congress?’’ he asks.
Meanwhile, bhai (as Ateeq is known among his supporters) still has his votaries who point out he has done a lot for poor Muslims in the last 15 years.
In the thoughtfully appointed lounge of SP MP Saleem Shervani’s old mansion near upscale Alkapuri in Allahabad, a large portrait of Nehru adorns one side of the wall while on the other hangs one of Mulayam Singh. Perhaps nothing else underscores the ‘sangam’ of the lofty with the profane. Families like Shervanis, of old money and loyalty to the Congress, left the party in the ’90s but still continued to win elections.
Says Shervani, “I wouldn’t have won on a Congress ticket in 1996. I spoke to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Rajesh Pilot, Arjun Singh and others. They said, and I am not trying to sound vain, that it’s important that people like you get elected to Lok Sabha, never mind the party. I believe the situation today calls for a Congress-SP tie-up.”
“Between too early and too late, there’s never more than a moment,” goes a quotation on Shervani’s Gautier-esque desk. The quote, from Franz Worel, is strangely apt for Congress as it negotiates with its blemished present, sadly not on its own terms but on the terms of its political adversaries and enemies.