Patna, Feb 28 (Calcutta Tube) Vice President Hamid Ansari Sunday released here commemorative coins of Rs.5 and Rs.100 denomination as a mark of respect to India’s first president Rajendra Prasad.
Ansari released the coins at a function organised by the state government to commemorate the 125th year of birth of Rajendra Prasad and his 47th death anniversary Feb 28.
Before releasing the coins, Ansari visited Rajendra Prasad’s memorial, officially known as Rajendra Smriti Sthal here to pay homage.
Ansari said Rajendra Prasad’s integrity and way of life were the reasons that he was conferred the title of ‘gentleman of Indian politics’ and this chiefly had prompted Gandhiji to call him ‘ajatashatru’ (one without enemies).
The memorial in the heart of Patna is in a shambles and lies by and large forgotten, barring two days a year – Prasad’s birth anniversary Dec 3 and death anniversary Feb 28 when the governor, the chief minister and top officials attend the function.
The Bihar government had announced plans to develop the memorial. After lying neglected for decades, the memorial this month saw the state government begin the process of its development and beautification.
Principal Secretary in the state tourism department Rashmi Verma said that nearly two weeks ago work was started to clean the site and demolish old structures. She said the memorial was likely to be expanded towards the Ganga.
‘The government has decided to spend Rs.2.5 crore in the first phase on landscaping, special lights and on a plaque bearing information about Rajendra Prasad,’ an official said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said last year the memorial would be developed jointly by the state and the central governments on the lines of Rajghat.
The state department of art, culture, youth affairs and tourism has prepared a detailed project report to develop the memorial on the bank of the Ganga where Rajendra Prasad was cremated in 1963.
Rajendra Prasad was born in 1884 at Zeradei in Bihar’s Siwan district. After serving for 12 years as India’s first president-from 1950 to 1962 he retired and was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian honour.
He spent the last days of his life at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna. He died in 1963.