A day before Karpoori Thakur, a prominent socialist leader and former Bihar chief minister, could turn100, President House announced to award him with Bharat Ratna posthumously. The announcement to honour Thakur with India's highest civilian award is a great achievement for the socialist leader who set the tone for reservation of other backward class (OBC) in 1990s.
Born in Bihar's Samastipur, Thakur served as chief minister for two terms. Popularly known as ‘jannayak', he lived and fought for the causes of backward castes. He was the first to mobilise the backward castes, paving the way for 26 per cent reservation for them in government services in Bihar in November 1978.
Thakur served as the President of Samyukta Socialist Party. He is called a mentor to the prominent Bihari leaders such as Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vikas Paswan, Devendra Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
Who is Karpoori Thakur?
Karpoori Thakur was born in the Nai caste to Gokul Thakur and Ramdulari Devi at Pitaunjhia (now Karpuri Gram) village in Samastipur district of Bihar.
He was influenced by nationalistic ideas as a student, and joined the All India Students Federation. As a student activist, he left his graduate college to join the Quit India Movement. For his participation in the freedom movement, he spent 26 months in prison.
After India became independent, Thakur worked as a teacher in his village's school. But later he entered in active politics and became a member of the Bihar assembly in 1952 from Tajpur constituency as a socialist party candidate.
He was arrested for leading Post and Telegarph employees during the general strike of the Central Government employees in 1960. In 1970, he undertook a fast into death for 28 days to promote the cause of Telco labourers.
Thakur was a big advocate of Hindi language. As the education minister of Bihar, he removed English as the compulsory subject for the matriculation curriculum.
Thakur served as a minister and deputy chief minister of Bihar, before becoming the first non-Congress socialist chief minister of Bihar in 1970.
He also enforced total prohibition of alcohol in Bihar. During his reign, many schools and colleges were established in his name in the backward areas of Bihar.
The BuckStopper, run by a group of seasoned journalists, holds the powerful accountable. The buck stops with them, as they cannot shrug off their official responsibilities.