Jagannath Mishra

Jagannath Mishra (24 June 1937[1][2] – 19 August 2019) was an Indian politician who served as Chief Minister of Bihar[3] and as Minister in the Union Cabinet. [4] [5] He was also Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha between 1988 - 1990 and 1994 - 2000. His involvement was at a high level in the Indian National Congress. He was elected Chief Minister of Bihar three times. After his brother L.N Mishra's assassination, Jagannath Mishra became Bihar's most powerful Congress leader in the late seventies and eighties. Prior to the emergence of Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1990, Jagannath, was rated as the biggest mass leader in the Congress. He was affectionately called as "Doctor Sahib".[6] He was also referred to as "Maulana" Jagannath because of his clout with the Muslims that he had earned by making Urdu as the second official language of the state in 1980.[7]

Jagannath Mishra
14th Chief Minister of Bihar
In office
11 April 1975 – 30 April 1977
Preceded byAbdul Ghafoor
Succeeded byPresident's rule
In office
8 June 1980 – 14 August 1983
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byChandrashekhar Singh
In office
6 December 1989 – 10 March 1990
Preceded bySatyendra Narayan Sinha
Succeeded byLalu Prasad Yadav
Personal details
Born(1937-06-24)24 June 1937
Bihar, British India
Died19 August 2019(2019-08-19) (aged 82)
Delhi, India
ResidencePatna, Bihar, India

Mishra supported and practiced populism, and had earned popularity among the teachers by taking over hundreds of private primary, middle and high schools across the state in 1977.[8] After leaving Congress, he joined the Nationalist Congress Party and later the Janata Dal (United).[9] On 30 September 2013, a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Ranchi convicted him, along with 44 others, in the Fodder Scam. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 rupees.[10] On 25 October 2013, the Jharkhand High Court granted bail to Mishra in fodder scam case[11] Mishra maintained his name was deliberately included in the scam on the instruction of the Congress president Sitaram Kesri.[12] Dr. Mishra was acquitted in two fodder scam cases on 23 December 2017 and 19 March 2018 [13][14] In two cases his Appeal is pending in Jharkhand High Court.[Cr. App. (SJ) 838 of 2013 and Cr. App. (SJ) 268 of 2018]


Mishra began his career as a lecturer and later became professor of economics at Bihar University. On 23 July 1983, he made a two-hour statement in the Bihar State Assembly in which he criticized the Centre. Among the charges he made against the Centre were that the state mined 40 per cent of the country's minerals but only got 14 per cent of the royalty earned. He claimed that he had "strongly pleaded with the Centre that the policy should be changed". He added that "the Centre is the buyer of our mineral products. It does not look nice that the consumer should also fix royalty rates. he second charge was that the financial institutions were not being fair to the state. Jagannath had stated "I have told the chairman of the Industrial Development Bank of India to invest more in Bihar. I have also told the financial institutions in plain words that for everything we would not go to the Centre". For the Congress(I) high command, the criticsm was an uncommon show of independence. Almost immediately Jagannath was summoned to Delhi and resigned on 14 August 1983.[15][16]

Bihar Press BillEdit

On 31 July 1982, Mishra’s government successfully pushed through the State Legislative Assembly the amendments of Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 455 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) collectively called the Bihar Press Bill.[17] Adopted amid pandemonium in the state legislature, the Bihar Press Bill prohibited the publication, sale and possession of any printed matter that was "scurrilous" or "grossly indecent" or "intended for blackmail.[18]

Mishra maintained that while he supported a free press as necessary and vital to a democracy, it must be controlled if one section of it acts irresponsibly. Citing instances of character assassination in the press that would damage the government's credibility, he said that he expected commitment to national goals and aspirations from journalists.[19] Addressing a Congress-I Party meeting in Lucknow, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said she had not read the Bihar Press Bill but understood from government lawyers that it contains nothing to gag the press. She warned that the government could not allow any segment of society, including the press, to misuse constitutional freedom of expression and that just as the constitution does not allow anyone to commit murder, no reporter could be allowed to engage in character assassination.[18]

In an unprecedented collective challenge to government attempts to curb press freedom, most of India's 10,000 newspapers shut down in protest of the anti-press measure adopted in Bihar and supported by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Journalists throughout the country walked out of their newspapers to protest what they regarded as "creeping" state censorship reminiscent of the tough emergency regulations imposed by Gandhi between 1975 and 1977.[18] Exactly one year after the Bihar Assembly passed Jagannath's strict measure, the chief minister moved a motion in the Assembly withdrawing the bill - even as it was waiting for presidential assent. For the first time in the constitutional history of the country a bill awaiting presidential assent had been withdrawn.[20]

In an interview to The Indian Express in 2017, Mishra said he regretted the decision of bringing the bill — which he claims was taken to keep PM Indira Gandhi in good humour “at the peak of her differences with Maneka Gandhi”.“I admit that I should not have brought the Bihar Press Bill,” Mishra told The Indian Express from Delhi. “I did so to keep then PM Indira Gandhi in good humour. During one of my visits to Delhi, I saw Indira in a pensive mood. She was upset with reports about the differences between her and Maneka Gandhi. She had been getting bad press. She asked me if I can bring a bill on the lines of Tamil Nadu and Orissa and asked me to meet then information and broadcasting minister Vasant Sathe, who gave me a detailed brief. I went back and brought the Bihar Press Bill on 31 July 1982.”[21]

Making Urdu the second official state languageEdit

On 10 June 1980, during his first cabinet meeting of his second term as Chief Minister of Bihar, Mishra promised to get the state Official Language Act amended to make Urdu the second official language of the State (in addition to Hindi). At the time, Bihar was one of the few states that was contemplating giving Urdu an official status. Only in Jammu and Kashmir, where Urdu is the official medium, and Hyderabad before the army action in 1948 had given the language this kind of recognition[22].

On 19 September 1980, the state government led by Jagannath Mishra declared that Urdu was the second official language of the state.[23]

Research and publicationsEdit

He wrote many research papers and also authored and edited a number of books.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Mishra lived in Patna. Mishra's wife Veena died on 22 January 2018 at Delhi's Medanta hospital. She was 72 and was undergoing treatment for respiratory complications.[24] His elder brother, Lalit Narayan Mishra, served as the Railway Minister of India between 1973 and 1975 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.[6] Jagannath Mishra's son, Nitish Mishra, is also a politician and has served as cabinet minister in the Government of Bihar.[25]


Mishra died on 19 August 2019 at the age of 82 years, after a prolonged illness in a Delhi hospital.[7] After his death, a three day state mourning was declared in Bihar. He was cremated with full State honours in Balua Bazar, his ancestral village in Supaul district.[6]


  1. ^ "लंबी बीमारी के बाद डॉ जगन्नाथ मिश्रा का निधन, बिहार में तीन दिन का शोक, राजकीय सम्मान के साथ होगा अंतिम संस्कार". Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  2. ^ "'Blame downfall for '86 political change '". www.telegraphindia.com. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  3. ^ Chief Minister list Archived 19 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine, cm.bih.nic.in, accessed March 2009
  4. ^ Tewary, Amarnath (19 August 2019). "Former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra passes away". The Hindu.
  5. ^ "Jagannath Mishra, former Bihar CM, dead at 82". 19 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Tewary, Amarnath (19 August 2019). "Former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra passes away". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b Dutta, Prabhash K (19 August 2019). "Jagannath Mishra: Known as Maulana, former Bihar CM openly challenged Indira Gandhi govt". India Today. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Poll results wipe out family legacy". www.telegraphindia.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  9. ^ "News18.com: CNN-News18 Breaking News India, Latest News Headlines, Live News Updates". News18. Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  10. ^ Deogharia, Jaideep (3 October 2013). "Fodder scam: Lalu Prasad gets five years in jail, Jagannath Mishra four". The Times of India.
  11. ^ "HC bail for fodder scam convict Jagannath Mishra". 25 October 2013.
  12. ^ IANS (27 December 2017). "Deve Gowda 'framed' Lalu in fodder scam: Jagannath Mishra". Business Standard India. Archived from the original on 4 November 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019 – via Business Standard.
  13. ^ "Lalu convicted in fourth fodder scam case, Jagannath Mishra acquitted".
  14. ^ Tewary, Amarnath (23 December 2017). "Fodder scam case: Lalu Prasad convicted, Jagannath Mishra acquitted". The Hindu.
  15. ^ MITRAFarz, Sumit; July 18, Ahmed; August 31, 2013 ISSUE DATE; June 18, 1983UPDATED; Ist, 2014 15:38. "Bihar CM Jagannath removed by Congress(I) high command, detractors surprised". India Today. Retrieved 9 January 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Farz; July 22, Ahmed; August 31, 2013 ISSUE DATE; June 19, 1983UPDATED; Ist, 2014 11:55. "I have offered to resign on my own: Jagannath Mishra". India Today. Archived from the original on 10 January 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ SethiFarz, Sunil; October 4, Ahmed Patna; August 31, 2013 ISSUE DATE; August 27, 1982UPDATED; Ist, 2014 11:54. "Bihar legislature 'passes' controversial 'anti-press bill' amidst protests". India Today. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ a b c Claiborne, William (4 September 1982). "Indian Papers, News Agencies Shut to Protest Tough Press Bil - The Washington Post". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2 May 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  19. ^ Stevens, William K.; Times, Special To the New York (19 August 1982). "New Press Law Stirs Concern in India". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  20. ^ Farz; July 16, Ahmed; August 15, 2013 ISSUE DATE; June 17, 1983UPDATED; Ist, 2014 16:49. "Bihar CM Jagannath withdraws infamous Press Bill". India Today. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "My Bihar Press Bill was wrong, Rajasthan bill is worse: Former CM Jagannath Mishra". 26 October 2017. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  22. ^ "Decision to make Urdu second official language in Bihar provokes furore from Maithil Brahmins". India Today. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  23. ^ "'Stop celebrating Lalu's B'day as Urdu Day' | Patna News - Times of India". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Wife of former Chief Minister Dr Jagannath Mishra passes away". Archived from the original on 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra passes away aged 82". The Economic Times. 19 August 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Abdul Gafoor
Chief Minister of Bihar
11 April 1975 – 30 April 1977
Succeeded by
President's Rule
Preceded by
President's Rule
Chief Minister of Bihar
8 June 1980 – 14 August 1983
Succeeded by
Chandrashekhar Singh
Preceded by
Satyendra Narayan Sinha
Chief Minister of Bihar
6 December 1989 – 10 March 1990
Succeeded by
Lalu Prasad Yadav