‘Plant a tree to remember me’
Known as a gentleman politician, G P Pradhan had participated in the 1942 Quit India movement and later underwent imprisonment during the emergency rule in 1975
Born on August 26, 1922, as Ganesh Prabhakar Pradhan in a middle-class family that lived in Sadashiv Peth, G P Pradhan was influenced by socialist leaders N G Gore and S M Joshi in his early years.
He was attracted to the Quit India movement floated by Mahatma Gandhi in his college days and he jumped into it.
For this, the British government sent him to Yerwada jail for eleven months. During his jail term, he came across many great personalities like Sane Guruji and his life was transformed.
After serving his tenure in jail, Pradhan resumed his education and completed his Masters degree in Marathi and English literature. He then joined Fergusson College as an English professor. He worked there from 1945 to 1965.
He was a favourite among students during his tenure and was fondly called Pradhan sir.
He was elected to the Pune University senate and left a significant mark on issues in the field of education. In 1965, he resigned as professor and began his second innings in public life.
He was elected from the graduate constituency of the Mahrashtra Legislative Council(MLC) as a socialist party candidate for the first time in 1966.
In 1975 during the emergency, Pradhan raised his voice against it and was put behind bars for 18 months by the government. During this jail term he wrote two Marathi books — Sata Uttarachi Kahani and Bhakari aani Swatantrya.
In 1980, Pradhan became the leader of opposition in the legislative council. He was known as a genuine and learned leader who knew the real issues people in Maharashtra faced.
After he retired from politics, he joined Marathi weekly Sadhna as honourary editor from 1985 to 1998. The weekly was the mouthpiece of the socialist party. Pradhan has written several books in Marathi and English.
In 1965, during the Indo-Pak war he went to the warfront as a journalist with Shirubhau Limaye and then wrote a book called Hajipir.
During Bangladesh war in 1971, he visited various villages in Bangladesh and wrote about it in a book titled Sonar Bangla. He also wrote the biography of Lokmanya Tilak for the National Book Trust.
My friends who love me, should plant a tree in my memory and take care of them for atleast five years,” this was pretty much the last wish of the socialist, tree-loving writer G P Pradhan.
GP had written a letter to Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the editor of Sadhana and president of Andashradha Nirmulan Samiti. The letter was written on April 5, 2006, when GP lived in the Sane Guruji Hospital Hadapsar.
This letter also reads, ‘This should be published in Sadhana, after my death. I was fortunate to live with Sane Guruji in the Yerwada jail in 1943 and I was able to write for Sadhana with the editor Professor Vasant Bapat and that I was able to do something for the Sadhana Trust. Sadhana must carry forward the heritage of Sane Guruji and become a mouthpiece of all progressive movements.”
GP as he was fondly called also urged his friends to refrain from erecting any kind of memorials in his memory. In his letter GP thanks all his friends who loved him, he also asks them to forgive him for whatever wrong he felt he did and finally he writes that he is overwhelmed with gratitude.
After her wife’s death in 2005 GP left his Sadashiv Peth residence and started living at the Sane Guruji Hospital in Hadapsar. He wanted to live with the freedom fighter and his best friend, Rambhau Tupe.
Pune Mirror had reported the move, but after Tupe’s accident he cancelled his decision. On April 1, 2007, he donated his Sadashiv Peth house to the Sadhana Trust and decided to at the hospital forever. When Mirror met him at the hospital, he was full of life, writing with great vigour about Indian democracy.
GP always felt that people misunderstood his austerity but the fact was that he had childlike emotions, and he will be deeply missed
GP with his wife Malutai
GP working with colleagues
GP Pradhan with Sane Guruji