Karpoori Thakur (24 January 1924 – 17 February 1988) was an Indian politician from the Bihar state. He was popularly known as Jan Nayak (Hindi for people's hero). He served as the Chief Minister of Bihar from December 1970 to June 1971 (Socialist Party/Bharatiya Kranti Dal), and from December 1977 to April 1979 (Janata Party).
|11th Chief Minister of Bihar|
22 December 1970 – 2 June 1971
|Preceded by||Daroga Prasad Rai|
|Succeeded by||Bhola Paswan Shashtri|
24 June 1977 – 21 April 1979
|Preceded by||Jagannath Mishra|
|Succeeded by||Ram Sunder Das|
|2 nd Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar|
5 March 1967 – 31 January 1968
|Chief Minister||Mahamaya Prasad Sinha|
|Preceded by||Anugrah Narayan Sinha|
|Succeeded by||Sushil Kumar Modi|
|Education Minister of Bihar|
5 March 1967 – 31 January 1968
|Preceded by||Satyendra Narayan Sinha|
|Succeeded by||Satish Prasad Singh|
|Born||24 January 1924|
Pitaunjhia, Bihar and Orissa Province, British India
|Died||17 February 1988 (aged 64)|
Patna, Bihar, India
|Political party||Socialist Party, Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Janata Party, Lok Dal|
|Occupation||Freedom Fighter, Teacher, Politician|
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 Indian independence movement, he spent 26 months in prison.
After India gained independence, Thakur worked as a teacher in his village's school. He became a member of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha in 1952 from Tajpur constituency as a Socialist Party candidate. He was arrested for leading P & T employees during the general strike of the Central Government employees in 1960. In 1970, he undertook a fast unto death for 28 days to promote the cause of Telco labourers.
Thakur was a votary of Hindi language, and as the education minister of Bihar, he removed English as the compulsory subject for the matriculation curriculum. It is alleged that the Bihari students suffered due to the resulting low standards of English-medium education in the state. 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.
Academic S N Malakar, who belongs to one of the MBCs of Bihar and had participated in the agitation supporting Karpoori Thakur’s reservation policy in the 1970s as a student activist belonging to the All India Students Federation (AISF) contends that the subaltern classes of Bihar – MBCs, dalits and upper OBCs had already gained confidence during the time of the Janata Party government.
Chet Ram Tomar of Bulandshahr was his close ally. A socialist leader, Thakur was close to Jaya Prakash Narayan. During the emergency in India (1975–77), he and other prominent leaders of Janata Party led the "Total Revolution" movement aimed at non-violent transformation of the Indian society.
In the 1977 Bihar Legislative Assembly election, the ruling Indian National Congress suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Janata Party. Janata Party was a recent amalgam of disparate groups including Indian National Congress (Organisation), Charan Singh's Bharatiya Lok Dal (BLD), Socialists and Hindu Nationalists of Jana Sangh. The sole purpose of these groups joining together was to defeat Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had imposed a nationwide emergency and curtailed many freedoms. There were also social cleavages with Socialists and BLD representing backward castes and Congress(O) and Jana Sangh the upper castes.
After the Janata Party came to power, Thakur became Chief Minister of Bihar for the second time by winning the legislative party election against Bihar Janata Party President Satyendra Narayan Sinha, formerly of Congress [O], by a vote of 144 to 84. Infighting in the party broke over the question of Thakur's decision to implement the Mungeri Lal Commission report, that recommended the institution of reservations for Backward Castes in government jobs. Upper caste members of the Janata Party tried to water down the reservation policy by unseating Thakur as Chief Minister. To wean away Dalit MLAs, Ram Sundar Das, a Dalit himself, was nominated as the candidate. Though both Das and Thakur were socialists, Das was considered more moderate and accommodating than the Chief Minister. Thakur resigned and Das became the Chief Minister of Bihar on 21 April 1979. The reservation law was weakened by allowing upper castes to obtain a greater percentage of government jobs. The internal tensions in the Janata Party caused it to split into multiple factions which led to Congress to return to power in 1980. However, he could not last his full term because he lost the leadership battle in 1979 from Ram Sundar Das whom his adversaries placed against him and was replaced as chief minister.
When Janata Party split in July 1979, Karpoori Thakur sided with the outgoing Charan Singh faction. He was elected from Samastipur (Vidhan Sabha constituency) to Bihar Vidhan Sabha as Janata Party (Secular) candidate in 1980 elections. His party changed its name to Bharatiya Lok Dal later, and Thakur was elected to Bihar Vidhan Sabha as its candidate in 1985 election from Sonbarsa constituency.  He passed away before this Vidhan Sabha could complete its term.
In 1977; Devendra Prasad Yadav resigned from the Bihar Vidhan Sabha and paved the way for Thakur to contest the Phulparas Vidhan Sabha constituency by-election. Thakur won by the margin of 65000 votes, defeating Ram Jaipal Singh Yadav of INC.
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 Vilas Paswan, Devendra Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
- Karpoori Thakur's birthplace, Pitaunjhia, was renamed to Karpuri Gram (Hindi for "Karpuri village") after his death in 1988.
- The Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Law College) in Buxar is also named after him.
- Bihar Government opened Jannayak Karpoori Thakur Medical College in Madhepura.
- The Department of Posts released a commemorative stamp in his memory.
- Jan Nayak Express Train running Between Darbhanga & Amritsar by Indian Railway.
- The government has taken immense commemorative measures that includes naming several stadiums after Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur in the state, establishment of scores of colleges and statues in most of the districts, Karpuri Thakur Museum, Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur hospitals in Samastipur and Darbhanga, publication of Karpuri Thakur's speeches in legislative and documentary formation on Karpuri Thakur.
- Singh, Aastha (24 January 2019). "Karpoori Thakur, the other Bihar CM who banned alcohol". ThePrint. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "Karpoori Thakur". FreeIndia.Org. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- "Bihar wants Bharat Ratna for Karpoori Thakur". CNN-IBN. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- "Members Bioprofile". Parliament of India. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- Sanjay Kumar (2018). Post-Mandal Politics in Bihar: Changing Electoral Patterns. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9789352805860.
- G.G. Mirchandani (2003). Bihar chief ministership battle 1977. 320 Million Judges. Abhinav Publications. p. 211. ISBN 9788170170617. Retrieved 4 June 2007.
- "State mourns death of ex-CM on festival day". Daily Telegraph. 7 March 2015.
- 30 years ago in India Today (slide 3). India Today.
- Santosh Jha (2 June 2002). "The depth of Opulence". Spectrum. The Tribune. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
- Akshayakumar; Ramanlal Desai (eds.). Agrarian Struggles in India After Independence. Oxford University Press, 1986. p. 87. ISBN 0195616812. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
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