Karpoori Thakur, a renowned socialist politician and former chief minister of Bihar, will be posthumously awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, as the Centre said on Tuesday. Thakur became well-known for his advocacy on behalf of the lower classes during his time as chief minister of Bihar.
Karpoori Thakur was born and raised in the little village of Pitaunjhia, which is today known as “Karpuri Gram” in the Samastipur District of Bihar. He had a very patriotic upbringing. As a student there, he became so committed to Indian nationalism that he joined the oldest student organization in the nation, the All India Students’ Federation (AISF).
Mahatma Gandhi called on the British colonial government to vacate India in 1942 via the Quit India Movement. A deep feeling of patriotism compelled Thakur to abandon his graduate studies and become a part of the movement. As members of the Indian National Movement were oppressed by the British government, his courageous decision to join the group resulted in a 26-month prison term.
The Political Career of Karpoori Thakur Following Independence
Having previously worked as a teacher in his area, Karpoori Thakur re-entered politics upon India’s independence on August 15, 1947. From his position in the Tajpur constituency in Bihar, he was elected to the state legislature in 1952 with the backing of the Socialist Party.
In India, Karpoori Thakur rose to political prominence as a result of his dogged pursuit of workers’ rights, which included several strikes and arrests. In 1970, he spearheaded a 28-day fast to support the rights of telecommunications workers.
Before becoming the first chief minister of Bihar who was not a Congress socialist, Thakur served as the minister of education for the state. He was certain that the state’s official language of teaching should be Hindi, not English. He made it illegal to possess or use alcohol while serving as chief minister.
Karpoori Thakur, another renowned socialist politician, was Jay Prakash Narayan’s close associate. During the emergency phase (1975–77), prominent members of the Janata Party, including Thakur and JP Narayan, laid the groundwork for the ‘Sampoorna Kranti’ (Total Revolution) movement, which aimed to peacefully transform Indian society.
Karpoori Thakur became a Charan Singh supporter during the 1979 Janata Party split. He was re-elected to the Bihar Assembly in 1980 and 1985, two years later. Karpoori Thakur left this world on February 17, 1988, after a lifetime of battling for social and political justice.
Outside of his official duties, Karpoori Thakur had a significant effect. As a leader, he was deeply committed to empowering members of the Other Backward Classes (OBC). His efforts were essential in establishing the framework for the Mandal Commission’s recommendation to reserve seats for OBCs in the 1990s.
In a 1977 report, the Mungeri Lal Commission proposed reclassifying Muslims and other economically disadvantaged individuals into two separate categories: very backward and backward. This was done when Thakur was chief minister of India. The implementation of this report in 1978 was a watershed moment because it recognized and addressed the concerns of the lowest-class citizens.