On 24 April 2017, then Goa Governor Mridula Sinha could not resist the urge to administer her by-then famous ‘marriage oath’ — seeing hundreds of postgraduate and doctorate students seated before her. On stage was then President Pranab Mukherjee, but Sinha would not be deterred from asking the youngsters to pledge that they would necessarily get married and do everything in their capacity to make their marriage work.
Her term — from August 2014 to October 2019 — as Goa’s first full-fledged woman governor, was marked by such speeches, dishing out marriage-related advice to youngsters in creative and humorous ways.
Mridula Sinha was, until August 2014, a member of the national executive of the BJP. During the BJP’s campaign for 2014 general elections, she was in charge of the BJP Mahila Morcha (women’s wing). On 25 August 2014, she was appointed as the Governor of Goa.
A noted Hindi writer and poetess, she died on 18 November at 77. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, among other party bigwigs like LK Advani, paid her tributes on getting the news of her death.
La littérateuse Mridula Sinha
The following are the titles published to the credit of the late Mridula Sinha:
- Ek thi rani aisi bhi (Short biography)
- Nayi devyani (Novel)
- Gharwaas (Novel)
- Jyon mehandi ko rang (Novel)
- Dekhan mein choten lagen (Stories)
- Sita puni boli (Novel)
- Yayavari ankhon se (Interviews)
- Bihar ki lok kathayen -I (Stories)
- Bihar ki lok kathayen-II (Stories)
The works of Mridula Sinha like Jyon Mehendi Ko Rang (as is the colour of mehndi), a novel is adapted into a TV serial, and short story Dattak Pita (foster father) and autobiography on Vijayaraje Scindia Rajpath se Lok Path par were made into feature films as Dattak and Ek thi Rani Aisi Bhi respectively.
It was National awards-winning filmmaker Gul Bahar Singh who adapted all her major literary works for films and TV.
From building a shed for a cow at Raj Bhavan for her daily pooja to throwing open the doors of the historic Portuguese-era residence to citizens year-round for the first time, the tenure of Mridula Sinha was unusual on several counts.
“Smt Mridula Sinha Ji will be remembered for her efforts towards public service. She was also a proficient writer, making extensive contributions to the world of literature as well as culture. Anguished by her death. Condolences to her family and admirers. Om Shanti,” tweeted the prime minister.
In October 2015, she took everyone by surprise when she, as Goa University chancellor, unexpectedly declined to give her approval to a varsity executive council decision to give a service extension to the then university vice-chancellor.
“Her flagship programme on ‘We and the constitution with Goa University’ was very well received, and she was about to finish her book on her experiences as governor of Goa. She had an indefatigable spirit and told me she attended 108 webinars and completed writing two books during the Covid pandemic,” said Goa University political science professor Rahul Tripathi.
Born on 27 November 1942 at Chhapra in Bihar, Sinha admitted in one of her farewell speeches in Goa that she had no idea about the coastal state’s rich cultural heritage, which was on par with her home state until she had the opportunity to live here.
“It is really shocking to learn about the sad demise (archaism) of Smt Mridula Sinha ji, former Governor of Goa. She was a tall leader with extensive work at grassroots yet had an immense passion for art and literature. For me, she always came across as a motherly figure! Her passing away is a great loss to the nation”, Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said following her death.
While in Goa, she was also appointed by Modi as brand ambassador of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
She held a postgraduate degree in psychology and had served as a lecturer and principal in educational institutes in Bihar, besides having authored over 46 books, most prominently the biography of Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia.
“Mridula ji was a fine human being. She touched everyone with her warmth and compassionate nature and it was always a pleasure to meet her. She was very kind to host me along with my family at the Goa Raj Bhawan in January 2019, and we spent a memorable week with her and her family. The nation has lost a remarkable leader. To me, it is a personal loss. May her soul rest in peace. My heartfelt condolences to Dr Ram Kripal ji, Nawin and all members of her family,” LK Advani said on her passing.