Karpoori Thakur (24 January 1924 – 17 February 1988) was an Indian Politician who served as the Chief Minister of Bihar twice. First, from December 1970 to June 1971, and then from June 1977 to April 1979. On 26 January 2024, the Government of India will posthumously honour him with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. The announcement was made by the President of India, Draupadi Murmu, on 23 January 2024, just before Republic Day.
|Date of Birth
|24 January 1924
|17 February 1988 at the age of 64
|Pitaunjhia, a village in the Samastipur District of Bihar
|Mother: Ramdulari Devi
Father: Gokul Thakur
|Ram Nath Thakur (politician)
Pushpa Kumari Devi
|Socialist Party (1952-1973)
Bharatiya Kranti Dal (1973-1977)
Janata Party (1977-1979)
|Bharat Ratna on 26 January 2024
Karpoori Thakur was born on 24 January 1924 in Pitaunjhia (now Karpuri Gram) village in Samastipur District of Bihar to Gokul Thakur and Ramdulari Devi. He belonged to the Nai (barber) community.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Satyanarayan Sinha, he joined the All India Students Federation and even participated in the Quit India Movement as a student activist, spending 26 months in prison for his role in the Indian independence movement.
After independence, Thakur worked as a teacher and later became a member of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha in 1952. He was known for leading movements, such as the general strike of P & T employees in 1960 and a 28-day fast unto death in 1970 for Telco labourers.
Thakur, as the education minister, removed English as a compulsory subject for matriculation, emphasizing Hindi. He served as a minister, Deputy Chief Minister, and the first non-Congress socialist Chief Minister of Bihar in 1970, enforcing the total prohibition of alcohol.
Thakur’s political career involved close associations with leaders like Jaya Prakash Narayan and active participation in the “Total Revolution” movement during the emergency in India (1975–77).
In 1977, the Janata Party won the Bihar Legislative Assembly election, making Thakur Chief Minister for the second time. However, internal party conflicts over reservations for Backward Castes led to his resignation in 1979.
Thakur remained active in politics, siding with the Charan Singh faction after the Janata Party split in 1979. He continued to serve in the Bihar Vidhan Sabha, introducing a 26% reservation model for the backward classes in government jobs in 1978.
Thakur, known as the champion of the poor, mentored prominent Bihari leaders such as Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Devendra Prasad Yadav, and Nitish Kumar until his passing.
- After Karpoori Thakur died in 1988, his birthplace Pitaunjhia was renamed Karpuri Gram in his honor.
- The Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Law College) in Buxar and the Jannayak Karpoori Thakur Medical College in Madhepura were named after him by the Bihar Government. A commemorative stamp in his memory was released by the Department of Posts.
- Additionally, the Jan Nayak Express Train, which runs between Darbhanga and Amritsar, was named after him by the Indian Railway.
- The government has undertaken various commemorative measures, including naming several stadiums after Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur in the state. Numerous colleges and statues in most districts, the Karpuri Thakur Museum, and Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur hospitals in Samastipur and Darbhanga were established in his memory.
- The government also published Karpuri Thakur’s speeches in legislative and documentary formats to preserve his legacy.