Socio-Political Activist and Final Days of Jai Prakash Narayan

The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.

Socio-Political Activist and Final Days of Jai Prakash Narayan

As Socio-Political Activist

We in the Sarvodaya movement emphasise the initiative of the people—the lokashakti as against the Rajashakti (the power of the State).

Jai Prakash Narayan was a strong believer in socialism but he often has disagreed with the means suggested to bring about socialism. Soviet model he totally discarded. He was strongly opposed to violent means for bringing socialism. Jai Prakash’s party suffered a crushing defeat in the 1952 general elections, yet this defeat could not shake his belief in socialism.

In fact the very creed of Jai Prakash is that of an activist who does not care the defeats. But Socialist party was a new party and it could not sustain the shock of defeat and therefore Jai Prakash tried to engage party workers in Bhoodan movement of Vinobaji.
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In May, 1952 at Pachmarhi conference of Socialist party, Jai Prakash himself donated half of his land in Bhoodan movement In the meantime Jai Prakash was instrumental in uniting his Socialist party with that of Acharya Kriplani’s Kissan Mazdoor Praja Party and formed a new party—Praja Socialist Party.

Vinoba’s influence on Jai Prakash increased slowly. In June 1952, Jai Prakash decided for 21 day fast for purification. The fast continued from 23rd June 1952 to 13th of July 1952. This 21 days fast completely changed him from a Marxist to a Sarvodayait. He, therefore, decided to join Bhoodan movement entirely. He joined Vinobaji in Bihar and his arrival had a great impact on Bhoodan movement.

In 1953 there came an invitation from Jawahar Lal Nehru to discuss cooperation issue between Congress and Socialists. Though Jai Prakash Narayan agreed yet other socialists could not. Jai Prakash insisted upon Nehru to accept 14-point programme discussed in part but Nehru refused to do so. Though Jai Prakash-Nehru talks could yield nothing but its reprecussions on Jai Prakash’s part was great and soon it was evident that the party was going to split. Jai Prakash resigned from the secretaryship of the party.

Jai Prakash soon lost the interest in active politics. He was inclined to get more and more involved in Bhoodan work. He decided to give his whole life for the Bhoodan movement This pleadge of his to devote whole life for Bhoodan movement is known as ‘Jeevan dan pledge’.

Jai Prakash Narayan had other motive in mind. He wanted to live the life of a sage. Though retired from active politics his socialist friends all comes the world. He attended Asian Socialist Conference in Bombay in 1956.

In 1958, he toured Europe on an invitation from the European socialist friends. During his 18-week tour of Europe he preached Sarvodaya which, according to him, was a Gandhian way of socialism.

Jai Prakash now finally decided to cut all connections with political parties, including his own party of which he was still a member. He, therefore, wanted to resign but was advised contararily by his friends. But in 1957 Jai Prakash sent a long letter of resignation to Praja Socialist Party.

Though Jai Prakash was disinterested in active politics but he could never have been a dumb spectator to the international happenings when Russia ‘sent its army in Hungary to crush a Rebellian there in 1956, he strongly condemned the action and called it a communist imperialist action. In 1959, when China annexed Tibet forcefully Jai Prakash was vociferous in condemning this action.

On the national scenario Jai Prakash condemned action of the Indian Army in Goa in 1961. He wanted the relaease of Sheikh Abdullah without trial for which he was trying since 1953. He also wanted good relations with Pakistan and became the president of Indo-Pak concialitory group in 1962.

Jai Prakash Narayan was also instrumental in supporting the armed struggle in Nepal during 1953-55. He further criticized Chinese agression on India in 1962 and in 1963 he, along with another sarvodayait Shanker Rao Deo, organized a long peace march from Delhi to Peking. However, due to refusal of Chinese Government to permit the march in the Chinese territory, it ended at Gauhati in Assam.

JP organized relief works on a large scale during Bihar famine in 1966. A commitee was formed in October 1966. JP succeeded in getting the cooperation of not only the Bihar and the Central Government, but also of various organisations such as Bharat Sevak Samaj, Bihar Sarvodaya Mandal, Bihar Khadi-Gramodyoga Sangh, Indian Women’s Council, Bihar Chamber of Commerce and all the political parties in Bihar.

There was a resounding response to his appeal for funds from various cities such as Calcutta and Bombay. While touring the famine-stricken districts of Bihar, he, however, warned the Bihari people that Bihar must not become a state of beggars or parasites. He exhorted Bihari Kisans to face the natual calamity with determination and to double their efforts to grow more food as soon as conditions became normal.

Jai Prakash Narayan was keenly observing the events in east Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) during 1970-71 and was disturbed at the atrocities of the Pakistan Army over Bengali Muslims in East Pakistan. He was also disturbed over the ever increasing influx of refugees in India due to genocide of Bangali Muslims by Pak army in East Pakistan. He toured over 16 countries to put forward the cause of Bangladesh and the refugees as government of India spokesman.

Jai Prakash Narayan was instrumental in solving the Dacoit Problem in the Chambal Valley in 1971-72.

The dacoit chiefs, including the dreaded Moharsingh and Madhosingh, were ready to surrender arms and themselves along with their gangmates only before Jai Prakash Narayan. So functions were organised first at Gandhi Ashram, Jaora in Morena district and later at Chhatarpur in Bundelkhand, at Gwa-lior and Bhopal, where not less than 450 dacoits in all laid down their arms ceremoniously. Both Jai Prakashji and Shri P.C. Sethi, then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, were present at almost all the functions.

It was indeed a social miracle which had its origin in the surrender of about 20 dacoits in 1960s before Vinobaji. Nothing that Jai Prakash Narayan had done during the previous two decades had brought him such spontaneous and immense acclamation as did the surrender of Chambal and the Bundelkhand dacoits at his instance in 1972.

Emergency and Final Days

Non-materialism, by rejecting matter as the ultimate reality immediately elevates the individual to a moral plane and urges him to endeavour to realize his own true nature and Fulfill the purpose of his being. Though Jai Prakash Narayan had decided long back not to enter active politics, yet he could not fail to observe the plight of the Indian people during the eighties.

After the Bangladesh crisis was over the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi .ordered midterm elections to Lok Sabha in 1971. Congress(I) won with thumping majority in Lok Sabha but the problems of the people remained.
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JP keenly observed the onslaught of majority over democracy through Mrs. Gandhi’s actions corruption, arrogancy, atrocities, and other evils were the order of the day.

In Gujarat the students demanded end to corruption, solution unemployment problem and various other demands and through a long agitation succeded in getting the Gujarat assembly dissolved. Before that Jai Prakash had published an Article “Yogth for Democracy” which had enthused the students of Gujarat. The students of Bihar also decided to conduct similar struggle on the Gujarat lines and requested Jai Prakash Narayan to lead their struggle.

By that time, Jai Prakash Narayan was not satisfactorily over the Sarvodaya Progress and had come to the conclusion that Sarvodaya can not solve the immense socio-economic problems of the Indian masses. He was also dissatisfied that Vinobaji had discarded Satyagraha as a useful weapon. He therefore decided to lead the students agitation in Bihar. He was deeply grieved over the brutal atrocities of police and other para-military forces on the peaceful yet determined agitators, and gave a clarion call for a total revolution.

This movement succeeded in reaching the grass root levels in Bihar in 1974-75 and spread almost in every nook and corner of the country. JP became leader of masses and the people looked to him as their sole saviour.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi had other motives in her mind and was adamant in accepting the 13-point charter of the Bihar students which included among other things dissolution of the Bihar Assembly and dismissal of the Bihar Ministry. She tried to suppress the movement, and failing to so, ultimately declared national emergency under article 352 of Constitution of India on 25th June, 1975. Before that the Allahabad high court had declared her election invalid on the grounds of malpractices in elections. This she took as a challenge by the devisive and reactionary forces.

The events between 26th June 1975 to 18th March 1977 are well known to the nation when almost all the opposition leaders were arrested and sent to jail. Jai Prakash Narayan himself was put under imprisonment at Chandigarh, there he felt remarkably ill yet the Congress government was determined to have a show down with him.

In March 1977 the mid-term elections were ordered and Mrs. Indira Gandhi was defeated. A new party, namely Janta Party, came into power. This party was combination of major political parties that participated in Bihar agitation. But this party also could not give answer to people problems. Though Jai Prakash Narayan had high hopes yet his dream of total revolution could not be materialised in his life time. Disillusiond and disheartend Jai Prakash Narayan passed away on 8th October, 1979 at Patna in Bihar.

Jai Prakash Narayan was known as Lok Nayak (People’s Hero) for his credible work in the field of social reforms and independent activism for Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution). He was posthumously awarded India’s greatest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna in 1999. He was also awarded the Magsaysay Award on account of his excellent public service.