Keshavrao Jedhe

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Keshavrao Marutrao Jedhe
Born 9 May 1886
Maharashtra, India
Died 12 November 1959
Pune, India
Organization Indian National Congress, Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWPI).
Movement Indian Independence Movement & Samyukta Maharashtra

Keshavrao Marutrao Jedhe was a leading Freedom Fighter and Congress Leader from Pune at the time of Indian Independence and Chairman of Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in 1956. The Famous Swargate chowk in Pune is named after Keshavrao Jedhe.

Political storm[edit]

Pre-Independence Era

In the 1930s Keshavrao Jedhe joined the Congress and several youths were attracted towards the party. He brought the Maratha community of Maharashtra into mainstream politics and won the first election in November 1934 for the Bombay Presidency legislative council. At this time there was a vacuum in Congress Leadership after Lokmanya Tilak's death, eventually Keshwarao Jedhe took over congress leadership in Pune. In 1938, Keshavrao became president of the state Congress and Jedhe Mansion was the centre of activity. Keshavrao Jedhe was instrumental in building the Congress Bhavan in Pune but Jedhe Mansion continued to be the inspiration for common Congressmen.

Post- Independence Era

Things changed after Independence. In 1948, after Mahatma Gandhi's death Keshavrao was unhappy with Congress leaders, he left the party to become one of the founder members of Peasants and Workers Party (PWPI). He fought the first Lok Sabha election against his friend and Congress candidate N. V. Gadgil but lost. Disappointed with PWP leaders, Jedhe returned to the Congress fold in August 1952.

Later, Yashwantrao Chavan often said he joined the Congress only because of Keshavrao.[1]

Samyukta Maharashtra Movement pioneer leader[edit]

The Indian National Congress was pledged to linguistic states, but the States Re-organisation Committee recommended a bi-lingual state for Maharashtra-Gujarat, with Mumbai as its capital. Its inauguration on 1 November 1956, caused a great political stir and, under the leadership of Keshavrao Jedhe, an all-party meeting was held in Pune and Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti was founded on 6 February 1956. In the second general election the Samiti defeated the stalwarts of Congress by securing 101 seats out of 133, including 12 from Mumbai. The Congress could form a government only with the support of Gujarat, Marathwada and Vidarbha.[2] Yashwantrao Chavan became the first Chief Minister of the bi-lingual Bombay State.

S.M. Joshi, SA Dange, NG Gore and PK Atre fought relentlessly for Samyukta Maharashtra, even at the cost of sacrificing the lives of several people and finally succeeded in convincing Congress leaders that Maharashtra should form a separate state. The resignation of CD Deshmukh, the then Finance Minister of the Nehru Cabinet, had its salutary effect, and on 1 May 1960, the state of Maharashtra, which included western Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada was born with the blessings of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.


Jedhe Mansion – second home of Maharashtra Congress Movement

Jedhe Mansion at 907, Shukrawar Peth, Pune, was houses of Keshwarao Jedhe, once the centre of political and social activities in Pune and Maharashtra during Pre and Post Independence Era.[1] Jedhe Mansion was built by Marutrao Babaji Jedhe in 1885, Jedhe Mansion was where Keshavrao Jedhe launched his stormy battles against social norms and the political establishment of the day from the late 1920s to the 1960s. Pune was then divided into ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ parts, along geographical and sociological lines. Western Pune, represented by Kesari Wada, was dominated by Brahmins and their culture, while eastern Pune was represented by Jedhe Mansion and Keshavrao’s bahujan samaj.

The Jedhe family believed in the ideology of Satyashodhak Samaj, set up by Mahatma Phule. Keshavrao’s elder brothers Dadasaheb and Baburao were close associates of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur who was then spearheading the Satyashodhak movement. Shahu Maharaj visited Jedhe Mansion whenever he was in Pune.

In the 1920s, Jedhe Mansion emerged as a political and social school for several youths from the bahujan samaj. The Jedhe brothers lived together and the story goes that a minimum of 50 people, (not members of the Jedhe family), shared a meal at any given time. An activist of the Satyashodhak movement would head straight for Jedhe Mansion as soon as he landed in Pune. Apart from common workers, it was also home to stalwarts like Karmaveer Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Kakasaheb Gadgil, Dinkarrao Jawalkar and Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil. Leaders like Pandit Motilal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Jayaprakash Narayan, Senapati Bapat, Bhausaheb Hire and Shankarrao Deo also visited Jedhe Mansion. Mahatma Gandhi too came to Jedhe Mansion twice.

Till 1934, Jedhe Mansion was the centre of social activities related to the Independence movement in Maharashtra. During this period, Maharashtra witnessed several controversies like Shivaji’s memorial and installation of the statue of Mahatma Phule in Pune. Jedhe Mansion was where strategies were drawn up to fight the anti-social and Conservist activities. Jedhe Mansion also witnessed several meetings on the Goa Liberation Movement and the Samyukta Maharashtra agitation in 1956.