Thakur, a key figure in OBC politics in the state, has been posthumously nominated for India’s highest civilian award on the occasion of his birth centenary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also written a tribute article on the late leader, emphasising his relentless pursuit of social justice and simplicity. In his editorial the Prime Minister said “Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur’s relentless pursuit of social justice created a positive impact in the lives of crores of people. He belonged to one of the most backward sections of society, the Nai Samaj. Overcoming numerous obstacles, he achieved a lot and worked for societal betterment.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, has welcomed the decision to honour Thakur with Bharat Ratna, while also slamming the BJP-led government for alleged “indifference towards caste census”, which he said is an “attempt to weaken the movement for social justice”. He also accused the government of “symbolic politics”.
“I pay respectful tribute to Jannayak Karpoori Thakur ji, an incomparable warrior of social justice, on his birth centenary. He is certainly a precious gem of India and the decision to award him Bharat Ratna posthumously is welcome. The BJP government’s concealment of the results of the Social and Economic Caste Census conducted in 2011 and their indifference towards a nationwide census is an attempt to weaken the movement for social justice. ‘Participatory Justice‘, one of the five justices of the Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra, is the focus of justice and social equality, which can begin only after the caste census. In true sense, this step will also be a true tribute to Jannayak Karpoori Thakur ji and his struggles for the rights of the backward and the deprived. The country now needs ‘real justice’ not ‘symbolic politics’,” Gandhi’s post on X read.
The Prime Minister, however, in his tribute, also highlighted that the former Bihar chief minister’s simplicity and itegrity saying” Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakurji’s life revolved around the twin pillars of simplicity and social justice. Till his last breath, his simple lifestyle and humble nature resonated deeply with the common people. There are numerous anecdotes that highlight his simplicity. Those who worked with him recall how he preferred to spend his own money for any personal matter, including his daughter’s wedding. During his tenure as Chief Minister of Bihar, a decision was taken to build a colony for political leaders, but he himself did not take any land or money for the same. When he passed away in 1988, several leaders went to his village to pay tributes. When they saw the condition of his house, they were moved to tears — how could someone so towering have a house so simple”
PM Modi mentioned that Karpoori Thakur’s life’s mission was to address inequalities in Indian society.
Thakur, who passed away in 1988, held the distinction of being the first non-Congress socialist leader to serve two terms as chief minister, first for seven months in December 1970 and later for two years in 1977.
Born on January 24, 1924, into the Nai Samaj (barber society), Thakur is notably recognized in Bihar for implementing a complete ban on alcohol in 1970. The village of his birth, situated in Samastipur district, was subsequently renamed Karpuri Gram in his honour.