Why are portraits of former U.P. Chief Minister hanging in this college?
SHASTRY V. MALLADY amp; MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S.
A full-length portrait of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh in the administrative block of a women’s college in Madurai may be a little surprising. As one strolls through the campus, many more portraits of the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister can be spotted.
It is highly unusual for a leader from the Hindi heartland to have a strong connection with people in a southern district of Tamil Nadu. But the SP leader has visited the college twice and contributed Rs.10 lakh to a women’s hostel in 1990.
The hostel named after him at E.M.G. Yadava Women’s College stands testimony to his ties with the educational institution. “Mulayamji was impressed with our college because it was the only women’s college run by the Yadava community,” says Alagi Karmegam, Principal.
Mr. Mulayam Singh laid the foundation stone for the hostel on September 3, 1990 in the presence of M. Tamizhkudimagan, the then Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly. He visited the college again on August 2, 1992 to inaugurate the hostel.
“S. Gopalakrishna Yadav, who was our college secretary, maintained a very good rapport with North Indian leaders. He sought Mulayam’s support for constructing a hostel for women students. Immediately, he announced a contribution of Rs.10 lakh, which was routed through the Madurai Collector,” the Principal recalls.
Felicitation for fete
The college’s association with him did not end there. Mr. Mulayam Singh sent a letter felicitating the college during its silver jubilee celebrations in 1999. “I was so proud of this esteemed institution when I paid a visit to this college…that memory will ever remain fresh in my mind,” the Chief Minister’s letter read.
There are 2,350 students studying in the college founded by E.M. Gopalakrishna Kone in 1974. “He is a charismatic figure. We wish to maintain a strong relationship with him,” says Dr. Karmegam.
Lalu Prasad too
Lalu Prasad of Bihar also enjoys a Madurai connection.
He donated Rs.1 lakh more than a decade ago to set up an English Language Lab in the Yadava College, a co-educational institution, also run by the same community.
“He gave the money during his visit to Chennai. The money, deposited in a bank, doubled over the period. It was used four years ago to establish the lab for improving communication skills among our students,” says P. Rengan, Principal of the college.