Context: Prime Minister paid tributes to Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP on his birth anniversary.
- Jayaprakash Narayan was a disciple of Mohandas Gandhi and leader of India’s independence movement.
- He never held a formal position in the government, but remained a leading political personality operating outside party politics.
- If Mahatma Gandhi is the architect of India’s first freedom in 1947, which was extinguished by Congress supremo Indira Gandhi on 25/26 June, 1975, it was JP who got us our second freedom after defeating Emergency in 1977. In gratitude, common people called him the Second Mahatma.
- JP was the first to be arrested under the Defence of India Rules.
- At the height of the Emergency era when Indira Gandhi taunted the nation saying that ‘food is more important than freedom’, the Sarvodaya leader said:
“Freedom became one of the beacon lights of my life and it has remained so ever since……Above all, it meant freedom of the human personality, freedom of the mind, freedom of the spirit. This freedom has become a passion of my life and I shall not see it compromised for food, for security, for prosperity, for the glory of the state or for anything else.”
JP-The Quintessential Rebel
- In February 1940, JP was arrested for speaking against Indian participation in the Second World War.
- He was again arrested in 1942 for participating in the Quit India Movement.
- Independence finally came on August 15, 1947. Within a year Gandhiji was assassinated. The Socialists lost to the Congress in the 1952 elections.
- Nehru invited JP to join the Cabinet. When Nehru could give no assurances on the implementation of JP’s 14-point plan to reform the Constitution, the administration, and the judicial system, nationalise the banks, redistribute land to the landless, revive swadeshi, and setup cooperatives, he refused the offer.
- JP had been offered the posts of Union cabinet minister, prime minister and President of India in quick succession and he turned down each one of them.
- Though considered the natural successor to Nehru as prime minister, JP chose to withdraw from power politics to engage in the more enduring struggle against poverty, social evils and violence.
- With the help of the trade unions, he was able to get many facilities for the workers, such as minimum wage, pension, medical relief and housing subsidy.
- As he grew up and cut his teeth in public life, JP wanted to overhaul the entire Indian society. For him, the political system had to be responsive to the aspirations of the poorest of the poor; the glaring inequalities that our economic system breeds had to end; the educational system should be geared to the needs of the nation; the canker of corruption in India’s political and administrative system had to be eradicated; the various social ills that afflict our country had to end. This, in simplistic and pragmatic terms, is what JP meant by “Total Revolution”.
Congress Socialist Party of JP Narayan
- It was founded in 1934 by socialists such as Jayaprakash Narayan and Acharya Narendra Dev.
- It was a socialist group within the Indian National Congress (INC).
- It believed in Marxist Ideas, Gandhism, Liberal and Social democracy of the west and showed allegiance to Indian National Congress (INC).
- The first All-India congress socialists’ conference was convened at Patna by Jaya Prakash Narayan in May 1934 under the presidentship of Acharya Narendra Dev to deliberate on the formation of Party.
- The first All India Congress Socialist Party was formed in Bombay in October 1934 under the presidentship of Sampurnananda and Jayaprakash Narayan as the General Secretary.
- Seeing the totalitarian ways and bloody purges unleashed in Soviet Russia, JP turned away from Communism.
- Again, on the attainment of independence, JP stood apart, concentrating his efforts on leading the Congress Party towards the socialist path. Those were the years when some of the finest intellectuals-turned-activists in the national movement, like Narendra Dev, Yusuf Meherally, Achyut Patwardhan, and Rammanohar Lohia joined hands with him, or more correctly, spurred him on in the new endeavour.
From Swarajya to Revolution and India’s Second Freedom
- As a result of the effect of Gandhian thought, Jayaprakash Narayan gave his thought about ‘gramraj’ and tried to implement it in his work of social reconstruction.
- According to him, the Gramraj means autonomous village republic, not a panchayat; this Gramraj will be governed by the villagers, not by government agencies.
- JP believed that every village should be like a small republic—politically independent and capable of taking its own decisions. It was a marriage of Gandhian-Indian concepts and modern Western democracy.
- His thoughtful, well-researched and brilliant book, The Reconstruction of Indian Polity, won him the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
- He was involved in the resolution of the Naxal and Naga issues and was also a key person in acquiring the surrender of dacoits in the Chambal Valley.
- This man who had turned a recluse refusing positions of high power and authority returned to active politics in 1974 at the ripe age of 72 when student unrest against corruption, unemployment, and high inflation spread like wild fire, threatening to turn violent and go beyond control.
- Mainly students spearheaded this uprising, popularly known as the “JP Movement”.