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regular-article-logo Thursday, 25 April 2024

Everybody loves Karpoori Thakur

The man who implemented caste-based reservations long before the Mandal Commission, is suddenly being celebrated by one and all. No prizes for guessing why

Upala Sen Published 28.01.24, 08:14 AM
Karpoori Thakur

Karpoori Thakur File picture

Suddenly everybody loves Karpoori Thakur. The BJP loves him most of course and it has proved its affections by honouring the late Lohiaite socialist from Bihar, the Jan Nayak, with the Bharat Ratna on his centenary year. In his speech, PM Modi remembered to highlight his anti-Congress stance. He said, “Such was his commitment to his ideals that despite living in an era where the Congress Party was omnipresent, he took a distinctly anti-Congress line…”

Welcome gesture

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Times have changed and suddenly everybody loves Karpoori Thakur. It most likely has little to do with his commitment to ideology, legendary simplicity and honest politics. Not many remember that he is the man responsible for removing English from the matriculation curriculum in Bihar’s schools. He was also the first to ban alcohol in the state. The Congress has said the Bharat Ratna move reeks of the BJP’s "desperation and hypocrisy”, but it has also had to say it "welcomes" the gesture. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said something about PM Modi trying to wrest full credit for the Bharat Ratna but he has also remembered to point out that the award had actually been on the wish list of the JD(U) for long years. RJD boss Lalu Prasad tweeted: "My political and ideological guru late Karpoori Thakurji should have received Bharat Ratna long ago... but the Central Government woke up when the present Bihar government of social concern conducted the caste census and increased the scope of reservation for the benefit of Bahujans..."

Catching up

Suddenly everybody loves Karpoori Thakur. It is possibly the kind of love that once moved John Donne to write, “I wonder by my troth what thou and I/Did, till we loved?” Everybody loves Karpoori Khakur and it begs the question what was keeping them from acting on it till now. This BJP government has been in power since 2014 and apart from the UP government’s announcement ahead of the 2019 elections that one road in every district would be named after Thakur, little else comes to mind. The Congress has been in power for almost 60 years in all. This is Nitish Kumar’s eight term as Bihar CM. As for Laloo Yadav, for the longest time he let the promised Karpoori Thakur Memorial remain a promise. American academic Walter Hauser once said that when he asked Jayprakash Narayan about Thakur and his reservations policy, JP said, “He is moving too fast. These things will all come in good time.” From the looks of it, India's greater politics has finally caught up with him.

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