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Born on 11 October 1902 in the village of Sitabdiara in Saran district of Bihar, Jayprakash Narayan went to became one of the greatest political leaders of his time. His call of "Total Revolution" brought down the curtains of Congress government paving way for the formation of first non-Congress government at the centre. Married to Prabhavati he breathed his last in the Jaslok Hospital in Bombay.
It was a summer evening of 25th June, 1975 when a massive rally was called at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi. From here a man addressed the gathering crowd of more than a lakh with a firm voice against the unjust rule of Indira government with recitation of
सिंहासन खाली करो कि जनता आती है।
He called for the Total Revolution and Sampoorna kraanti. This hero was Jayaprakash Narayan. With his call started a series of event that led to the proclamation of Emergency in India, culminating finally with the defeat of Indira Gandhi in 6th Lok Sabha elections of 1977.
Till date only handful of leaders has enjoyed the love and confidence of the people to the extent of Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan. A true Gandhian he was one among the few luminaries in India, whose life was a message of struggle for freedom and justice. A political activist of repute he believed in the essence of Socialism and was from beginning committed to the cause of nation.
Early Life and Education
Born on 11 October 1902 in the village of Sitabdiara in Saran district of Bihar, Jayprakash Narayan was fourth child of Harsu Dayal Srivastava and Phul Rani Devi. Jayprakash Narayan did his schooling from collegiate school at Patna. From early age he was fond of reading meaningful magazines like Saraswati, Prabha and Pratap. Inspiring poems of Maithilsharan Gupta and Bharatendu Harishchandra further added sense of courage and valour in him. His essay, "The present state of Hindi in Bihar" won a best essay award. He won a District merit scholarship in 1918 fater excelling in 'State Public Matriculation Examination'.
After schooling he joined Patna College only to leave and join the Bihar Vidyapeeth, a college run by the Congress. At the age of 20 he sailed for United States to continue his studies further. While studying in United States he came across various bitter experiences which gave him a direct insight into the difficulties of the working classes. Unable to pay his fee he was forced to transfer to University of Iowa when fees at Berkeley were doubled. After many difficulties he pursued his favourite subject, sociology, and received much help from Professor Edward Ross, the father of sociology.
Jayaprakash Narayan was married at an early age of 18 years in October 1920 to Prabhavati Devi who herself was 14 years of age. Herself an ardent follower of Mahatama Gandhi she became an inmate at the Gandhi Ashram. An interesting thing between the wife and husband was that while Jayaprakash was a believer of the Communist school of thought, Prabhavati had inclination towards Gandhian principles.
Upon his return from United States in late 1929 Jayprakash Narayan joined the Indian National Congress on the invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru. Mahatma Gandhi became his mentor in the Congress. As a true nationalist he participated in various demonstrations organised by Congress. During his long political career he was arrested, jailed, and tortured several times by the British. During civil disobedience movement he was imprisoned in Nasik Jail, where he met various prominent leaders of freedom movements including socialist Ram Manohar Lohia. Apart from Lohia he also got the opportunity to met Ashok Mehta, Minoo Masani, Achyut Patwardhan and other national leaders. He served as General Secretary of Congress Socialist Party, a left-wing group within the Congress formed with Acharya Narendra Deva as President. When Britishers on the launch of famous Quit India Movement in August 1942 arrested and jailed various nationalist leaders he alongwith Yogendra Shukla, Ramnandan Mishra, Suraj Narayan Singh, Shaligram Singh and Shyam Barthwar scaled the wall of Hazaribagh Central Jail only to start an underground movement for freedom.
Participation in Post Independence Political Movements
Various factors lead to the return of Jayprakash Narayan in mainstream politics after decades of independence. Growing public discontent against Indira Government which was unable to check high inflation, unemployment and lack of supplies of essential commodities lead to social unrest in the country. Nav Nirman Andolan movement of Gujarat asked Jayaprakash to lead a peaceful agitation. His silent procession on 8 April 1974 in Patna met with a police lathi charge which added fuel to fire. Another massive rally was planned at Gandhi Maidan in Patna where he declared, "This is a revolution, friends! We are not here merely to see the Vidhan Sabha dissolved. That is only one milestone on our journey. But we have a long way to go... After 27 years of freedom, people of this country are wracked by hunger, rising prices, corruption... oppressed by every kind of injustice... it is a Total Revolution we want, nothing less!"
The student movement of 1974 developed into a popular people's movement known as the Bihar Movement. He gave a call for peaceful Total Revolution. He along V. M. Tarkunde, founded Citizens for Democracy in 1974 and the People's Union for Civil Liberties in 1976, both NGOs, to uphold and defend civil liberties.
Proclamation of Emergency in India
Undeterred by various movements Indira Gandhi remained adamant. But not for long. On June 12, 1975, hearing the petition of Socialist Leader Raj Narain the Allahabad High Court held the Prime Minister, Mrs. Gandhi, guilty on charges of corrupt practice in her election. Raj Narain had accused her of indulging in corrupt practices leading to his defeat. The Prime Minister ceased to be the Member of Parliament. She was also disqualified for a period of 6 years from contesting any further election. Jaiprakash Narain who by this had captured the popular mood of the people arrived in Delhi. On the evening of 25th June, 1975 a massive rally was organized at Ramlila Maidan which was addressed by JP and several other leaders. Unnerved by the sudden change of wind Mrs. Indira Gandhi decided to proclaim emergency provisions mentioned under articles 356. On the intervening night she imposed state of emergency which continued for 21 months.
Detention during Emergency Period
With the proclamation of emergency many political leaders of repute were arrested with all out censorship on Media. Jayaprakash Narayan was also arrested and sent to Chandigarh where he was kept prisoner in a hospital. “My world lies in shambles around me,” he cried. As his health worsened on he on 12 November was moved to a hospital in Bombay. At Jaslok Hospital, Bombay he was detected with kidney failure meaning that he would be on dialysis for the rest of his life. Campaign to free the frontal voice of people was raised from various platforms and countries. In Britain , Surur Hoda launched the "Free JP" campaign chaired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Noel-Baker for the release of Jayaprakash Narayan. Sensing the mood of the people and raising concern across globe against the unjust emergency provisions prompted Indira Gandhi to revoked emergency on 18 January 1977 and announced elections. The 6th general election was an eye opener for her and Congress party. The Janata Party was voted into power and formed the first non-Congress party government at the Centre. She and her son Sanjay also lost election brining much speculation about the future of the party.
Illness and Death
Due to old age and various ailments Jayaprakash Narayan did not live long. He died on 8 October 1979 in Patna causing a brief wave of national mourning and the closure of schools and shops.
Awards and Honours
Bharat Ratna, 1999 (Posthmus) for Public Affairs
Rashtrabhushan Award of FIE Foundation, Ichalkaranji
Ramon Magsaysay Award,1965 for Public Service.
Popularly referred to as JP or Lok Nayak he till the last moment of life remain committed to the cause of the marginalised section of society and was one of the most vocal advocates of democracy. His efforts of freeing the country from the shackles of a home-brewed dictatorship imposed by Indira Gandhi will ever be cherished by generations to come.
Entire Nation of India
(FAN OF Shri JAYAPRAKASH NARAYAN)
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