Sri Krishna Sinha (Singh) (Sri Babu) (1887–1961), known as Bihar Kesari, was the first Chief Minister of the Indian state of Bihar (1946–1961). Along with the nationalists Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Sinha is regarded among the Architects of Modern Bihar. Barring the war years(Second World War 1939–1945), Sinha was chief minister of Bihar from the time of the first Congress Ministry in 1937 until his death in 1961.” It was Sinha who led Dalit’s entry into the Baidyanath Dham temple (Vaidyanath Temple, Deoghar), reflecting his commitment to the upliftment and social empowerment of dalits. Sinha was the first Chief Minister in the country to abolish zamindari system in Bihar. He underwent different terms of imprisonment for a total of about eight years in British India.
The President of India, Pratibha Patil recently released a book on the letters of exchange between Sinha and the First Prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru titled Freedom and Beyond. The Nehru-Sinha correspondence touches on subjects such as Indian democracy in the making in early years of Independence, Centre-state relations, role of governor, turbulence in Nepal, Zamindari abolition and education scenario. Sinha was known for his scholarship and erudition and he had given his personal collection of 17,000 books to the public library in Munger in 1959 which is now named after him asSri Krishna Seva Sadan.
Sri Babu was born on 21 October 1887 in Khanwa situated along the banks of the Ganges River in the state of Bihar. His paternal village is Maur near Barbigha which was under Munger District (earlier name Monghyr)but now falls under Sheikhpura District of Bihar. His father was a religious, middle-class member of a Bhumihar Brahmin family. His mother was also a very simple and religious-minded person. She died of plague when Sri babu was five years old. He got his early education in his village school, and later in Zila School, Monghyr, and then joined Patna College, then an affiliate of the University of Calcutta in 1906. He studied law and started practicing in Munger from 1915. In the meantime, he married and had two sons, Shivshankar Singh and Bandishankar Singh (more commonly known as Swaraj Babu) who later held various posts in the State Ministry.
He first met Mahatma Gandhi in 1916 at Central Hindu College, Benares and later at Shah Muhammad Jubair’s house in December, 1920. At Monghyr, by the Ganges, he vowed to work relentlessly to free India from the British rule. He had started practising law in 1915, but gave it up in 1921 to take active part in Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement.
He was arrested for the first time in 1922 at Shah Muhammad Jubair’s house and Congress Seva Dal was declared illegal. With this spirited action he was declared Bihar Kesari by the people. He was released from jail in 1923 and on the day of Tulsi Jayanti performed in the play Bharat Darshan at Central School, Kharagpur. In the same year he became member of All India Congress Committee.
In 1927, he became member of Legislative Council and in 1929 became General Secretary of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee. In 1929 he became the General Secretary of Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha started by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati. In 1930, Sinha played an important role in ‘Namak Satyagrah’ at Garhpura. During arrest he suffered severe scalding injuries to his hands and chest. He was arrested for six months and again during Civil Disobediencemovement he was arrested for two years under severe conditions. He was released after Gandhi–Irwin Pact and again started with his nationalist work and work with the Kisan Sabha. On 9 January 1932 he was again arrested in Monghyr for two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1,000. He was released from Hazaribagh Jail in October, 1933. He was involved in relief and rehabilitation after the 1934 Bihar earthquake. He was the President of Munger Zila Parishad from 1934–37. In 1935, he became member of Central Assembly.
On 20 July 1937, he became the Premier of Bihar province when Congress came to power. Under the Government of India Act of 1935, Sinha formed his Cabinet at Patna on 20 July 1937. He and his colleague Bihar Vibhuti Anugrah disagreed with the governor on the issue of the release of political prisoners and resigned. The then governor had to accede to the demands for release of prisoners from Cellular Jail (Kalapani) and Bihar Tenancy Act was reformed in favour of peasants. They then resumed office. But they again resigned in 1939, as did all Congress CMs, over the question of involving India in the Second World War without the consent of the Indian people. Along with his close colleague in Gandhi’s non co-operation movement Bihar VibhutiAnugrah Narayan Sinha, a prominent Gandhian and the first Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of the Indian state of Bihar,he is considered one of the makers of modern Bihar.
In 1940, at Ramgarh, where the 53rd National Convention of Indian National Congress took place, at Gandhi’s inspiration became the first Individual Satyagrahi from Bihar. He was jailed for nine months (22 November 1940 – 26 August 1941). When the Quit India movement started in 1942, he was arrested on 10 August. He was released in 1944 from Hazaribagh jail after he became seriously ill. In the same year his wife died at Prince of Wales Medical College.
As the former Prime Minister of Bihar he attended the Simla Conference and also became the member of Constituent Assembly of India which framed theConstitution of India.
He was always interested in self-study and his ideas and speeches were noted for their wisdom. He was a staunch opponent of casteism and always rose in defence of the oppressed and the oppressed. Impressed by this courage of Sinha, Mahatma Gandhi in 1940 awarded him the distinction of being called the first Satyagrahi of Bihar.
Sinha served Bihar continuously from 1946 till his death on 31 January 1961 at the age of 73. In his honour in 1978, the Ministry of Culture started a science museum called Srikrishna Science Centre. The biggest conference hall in Patna, Shri Krishna Memorial Hall is also named after him.
Almost all the development projects needed for the state of Bihar were done by the leadership pair of Sinha and A N Sinha. It includes several river valley projects right from Koshi, Aghaur and Sakri to other such river projects.The first five-year plan period was given to the development in rural development works mainly mainly in the agricultural sector. In fact, Bihar became the top state in the country’s first five-year plan and it was announced by the then Finance Minister Dr Sinha in the assembly. Since the second five year plan period, Shri Babu brought several heavy industries like Barauni Oil Refinery, HEC plant at Hatia, Bokaro Steel Plant, Barauni Fertiliser Plant, Barauni Thermal Power Plant, Maithon Hydel Power Station, Sulphur mines at Amjhaur, Sindri Fertiliser Plant, Kargali Coal Washery, Barauni Dairy Project, etc. for the all round development of the state.
He had immense contribution in the cultural and social development of the state. It was he who had established the Rajendra Chatra Niwas at Calcutta for the Bihari students, the Anugraha Narayan Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ANSISS) at Patna, Lok Rangshala of the Bihar Sangit Nritya Natya Parishad, Sanskrit College at Patna, Ravindra Bhavan at Patna, Bhagvan Buddha’s statue at Rajgir Venu Van Vihar as well as orphanage at Muzaffarpur.