When the first provincial elections were held in India for all the states including Bihar, despite the fact that Congress won more than 60% of seats in Bihar, Mohammad Yunus (May 4, 1884 – May 13, 1952) was elected as the first Prime Minister of Bihar. He was not from Congress Party. Though he was not from INC, he had a very cordial relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru. They had exchanged many letters to each other discussing their political as well as academic works, views and ideas.
Jawaharlal Nehru not only wrote letters to Mohammad Yunus directly but also asked about him from others. When Mohammad Yunus was in jail in 1943, Nehru in his letter to Darling Bets, asked her to write to Yunus. In another letter to Indira Gandhi on 26 March 1943, Nehru expressed his deep care for Mohammad Yunus’s TB while he was in Abbottabad jail. Nehru told Indira that “He (Yunus) is one of the most likeable persons I have come across.” Nehru wrote at least 9 letters to Indira and 8 to Darling expressing his worries about the health, work and even the family matters of Mohammad Yunus including his marriage.
Three issues related to the life of Mohammad Yunus that Nehru discussed in his letters to Indira Gandhi and Darling Bets were the book of Mohammad Yusuf titled ‘Frontier Speaks’, the marriage of Yusuf and his health condition while he was in jail during 1942-43 and suffering from TB. (Selected Works of Nehru, vol-13)
Nehru wrote at least two letters directly to Mohammad Yusuf to communicate about his book titled ‘Frontier Speaks’. Mohammad Yusuf asked Nehru to read the manuscript of his book and write Forward for the book that Nehru did. Nehru wrote this Forward for Yunus’s book while Nehru was in Dehradun jail. Though he disagreed with many of the things written in the book he eagerly waited for the publication of the book and informed about the book to his daughter Indira Gandhi. (Selected Works of Nehru, vol-12)
Mohammad Yunus was the founder of the Muslim Independent Party. In the first provincial election of Bihar held in 1937, his party emerged as the second largest party after Congress in Bihar. His party won in 20 assembly constituencies while the Muslim League of Jinnah could not be won even a single seat. Thus Mohammad Yunus played an important role in defeating the communal forces in Bihar in coordination with INC.
190 days government of Mohammad Yunus as Prime Minister of Bihar took several revolutionary and pro-people measures. The major focus of Yunus’s government in Bihar was the issue of flood and debt-stricken conditions of Bihari peasants. He reduced the rent paid by the tenants. He managed to undertake a survey of the Diara lands in the Munger district and prepared a master plan for the agrarian development in the region.
After becoming Prime Minister of Bihar on 1st April 1937 the first decision his cabinet took was to release all the political prisoners/freedom fighters unconditionally. This included those protesters also who protested against his decision to form government in Bihar and plated stones over his house.
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He managed the communal tension in the Aurangabad district on the 22nd of April 1937 in the most heroic fashion. He reached the place of incident without even a single policeman and persuaded both the community to organise a joint feast and they jointly led the procession of idol immersion. He was praised by all across the country for his courageous work to establish peace and harmony in Bihar.
After independence, he remained concerned with the issues of peasants in India. He along with J B Kriplaani and Mahamaya Prasad founded Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP) in 1951. In the first Lok Sabha Election of 1951-52, KMPP emerged as the third largest party in India after Congress and Socialist Party. Later KMPP merged with the Socialist Party of JP to form Praja Socialist Party but Mohammad Yusuf died before that. He remained one of the most forgotten voices of history from Bihar.