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Mani Canteen, a Nursery of Student Politics- Enjoy the taste of politics with every sip of Tea.

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Chhattisgarh’s former Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, incumbent CM Bhupesh Baghel, senior Minister Ravindra Choubey, Dr Shivkumar Dahariya, former Minister Brijmohan Agrawal, Prem Prakash Pandey, former student leader Dr Vyas Narayan Dwivedi, Dr Prakash Shukla, Shesh Narayan Shukla, Anil Dubey, Santosh Dubey, Yogendra Shankar Shukla and Pramod Dubey, despite their political differences, what’s the one thing that’s common in these political powerhouses? Well, there is none of them who hasn’t sipped tea and eat snacks at the Mani Canteen.

The Mani canteen was at the entry gate of Raipur’s Ayurvedic College, which is now named Khudadad Imdad Ji Dunga Ayurvedic College. Once there were a handful of Colleges, but now there are colleges at not just the towns, but even at villages. Amongst all these colleges, there was only one varsity “Pt Ravishankar Shukla University” and most students of the region headed Raipur.

Science College, Ayurvedic College, Engineering College and Sanskrit Colleges are all with the premises of Pt Ravishankar Shukla University. Away from them is Durga College. Here, commerce class in the day and law classes in the night used to be held.

In the Chhattisgarh College premises, there used to be one Champadevi College held in the night. The Dudhadhari Bajrang Girls College was still there at Kalibadi Chowk. It was still known by the name of Degree Girls’ College. However, other colleges were all Co-Ed with boys and girls studying together.

Students politics was intense with large crowd of students at the time. Mani Canteen was the favourite hangout point for these students. The canteen was run by one late Maniram Shukla. He was running small eatery from a shack, which the students used to call Mani Canteen by associating it with his name. It used to be opened at 5 am and closed at 8 pm.

Late Shukla migrated to Raipur from Pratapgarh of Uttar Pradesh in 1955. Dungaji Colony is located beside the Ayurvedic College premises. There was a Government School at Colony. Shukla first opened the eatery beside that school  in 1955. Later, the school was closed after shifting its primary school classes to Danganiya and middle school to Choubey Colony.

After the closure of school, Shukla shifted his eatery in front of Ayurvedic College for the time being and then to entry road inside, where his eatery ran for 40 years. Importance of Shukla to the students can be gauged from the incident when the then Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh felicitated him along with one Mishra at an anniversary function of Ayurvedic College. Mishra ran a Paan Shop outside the Ayurvedic College.

There was another eatery popular among students was Mishra Hotel near Amanaka Chowk and a famous Chacha-Bhatija Paan shop beside it. After some time, one Tikli Hotel also started gaining popularity. It was ran by an Oriya gentleman who went by the name of Tikli. He cooked “Bada” (fitters) in his shack. Unfortunately, Tikli met a tragic end when he was ran over by train at Amanaka Railway Crossing.

Students at the time were content with sips of tea and puff of cigarette smoke. Studious students used to study in hostels or in big university campus while the student leaders could be found at Mani Canteen, Mishra Hotel, Chacha-Bhatija and Mishraji’s paan shop. It was a golden age of student politics which gave many big leaders to not just Chhattisgarh but to entire nation.

Brother of Chhattisgarh’s first Chief Minister late Ajit Jogi was a professor at one college. His residence was located right in front of the Ayurvedic College. Late Ajit Jogi remained a professor at Raipur Engineering College for some time after completing study from Bhopal Engineering college.

Some people think that Ajit Jogi was inspired to enter politics after watching student politics while visiting home of his brother. It’s another thing that he only entered politics after becoming IPS and then IAS.

By Ajay Kumar Verma

Record Keeper at RMC

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