Lokbandhu Raj Narain November 1917-31 Dec 1986 as he was known, was son of Shri Anant Prasad Singh, was born on Kartik Akshaya Navami of 1917 in an affluent Bhumihar Brahmin family in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He was born in the village named Motikoat, Gangapur in Varanasi. He was from the Royal family of Varanasi and directly associated with the family of Maharaja Chet Singh and Maharaja Balwant Singh, who were kings of Varanasi, over a century back. He was Educated at Banaras Hindu University, and did M.A. and LL.B.
A Political and Social worker he organized a school for adults, a girls school, a study centre and a labour organization and became member of Congress Socialist Party, in 1934, and National Committee of Students Federation, 1939-44.He was President of the Banaras University Mandal Congress Committee and Member of District Congress Committee(D.C.C.).
He was a great freedom fighterHe was president of Student Congress during 1942 revolution, and lead the revolution in and around Varanasi district in UP. The protest and revolution under his leadership on 9 August 1942, is considered as one of the best in the country. He was so active in freedom struggle that British government wanted to get hold of him and hence ordered, in 1942, a prize of Rs. 5000/- to anybody who can get him “Dead or alive” Initially he was “underground” for three months and later arrested on 28 September 1942, during Quit India Movement and detained till 1945.
When country got independence Raj Narain joined Socialist Party led by Acharya Narendra Deva, Jayprakash Narayan and Dr Rammanohar Lohia and held many party positions including Secretary Ship, of UP Socialist Party, 1948-51. He was very close to his Guru Acharya Narendra Deva and Dr. Rammanohar Lohia. Dr. Lohia described him as “a person who has heart of a Lion and practices of Gandhi”. Dr. Lohia admired him a lot, and even said that “if in India there could be just three or four persons like him, dictatorship can never shadow the democracy”. He was one of the pillars of Socialist movement in Indiaand holds a record for going jail the maximum number of times in connection with students’ and socialist movements
He was elected to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1952. He was first “Leader of Opposition” of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly after independence, and his second term ended in the year 1962.
He was Member, Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, 1952-1962.Member National Executive, PSP, 1954-55. Chairman, Socialist Party,1961-64.Member Rajya Sabha, 1966–72 and 1974-77. Associated with CSP,1934–48, Socialist Party, 1948-52, Praja Socialist Party,1952-1955.Socialist Party,1956-64.Samyukta Socialist Party,1964-72.Socialist Party, 1971-72, Socialist Party(Lohia) 1972-74, Bhartiya Lok Dal, 1974-77.Janata Party, 1977–79, Janata Party (S), 1979-80. Democratic Socialist Party, 1981-83.Janata Party, 1983–84, and Socialist Party 1984 till his death in 1986.
Raj Narain who opposed policies and practices of Indira Gandhi, contested against the Prime Minister in 1971 Lok Sabha elections from Rai Bareli, as an SSP Candidate, although he suffered a defeat from her in 1971 elections but he accused Indira Gandhi of corrupt electoral practices and filed an election petition against her. The Allahabad High Court on 12 June 1975 upheld the accusations and set aside the election of Indira Gandhi and also disqualified her to contest Lok Sabha election for next 6 years, which led to the imposition of Emergency in India. Nationwide protest started and streets were flooded with people in the leadership of Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan and Lokbandhu Raj Narain. This was biggest upset of Indian politics after independence, yet again by Raj Narain. Known as biggest critique and adversary of Indira Gandhi, Raj Narain was arrested and imprisoned during Emergency, June 1975 to February; 1977. He was elected to Lok Sabha in 1977 general elections and defeated then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with the margin of more than fifty thousand votes. Raj Narain chose not to join government in spite of the fact that he defeated Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister in the elections. Jai Prakash Narain suggested that person who defeated Prime Minister should become Prime Minister, but Raj Narain chose to stay away from joining government. Later after forceful insistence of Jai Prakash Narain, he joined government and became Minister of Health and Family Welfare in March, 1977He was imprisoned 58 times for a period totaling about 15 years in connection with students’ and socialist movements. As a key artisan of Janata Party, he helped to install Morarji Desai and later Charan Singh as Prime Minister of India. He was also instrumental in defeating two governments viz Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai. Janata Party (S) members wanted to form the government in Raj Narain’s leadership in 1979, for which they left Janata Party and Morarji Desai, but to fulfill his promise to Charan Singh he installed him as Prime Minister Earlier, Dr Lohia and Raj Narain installed Chaudhary Charan Singh as Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh in the year 1967 and when Charan Singh refused to fulfill his promises made to Dr Lohia, he was asked to resign.
Raj Narain was married and had three sons and one daughter. Narain died on 31 December 1986, at 23:55 hrs at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi; the name which again shared its association with him after his death.
A commemorative stamp was released on him by the former Vice President of India, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat on 23 March 2007.
Special interests: Political and social work, yoga, Indian culture and philosophy.
Raj Narain published ‘Janmukh’-a weekly from Varanasi and has been on the editorial board of ‘Jan’ a monthly established by Dr Rammanohar Lohia.
having been born in a rich Bhumihar Brahmin family, with at least 800 bighas of land, which he had distributed amongst the landless dalits. He has come to be known as the only person to have defeated Indira Gandhi at the hustings. But much before that, socialist Raj Narain was recognised for his “unforgettable contribution to the freedom struggle” — a citation in the Swantrata Sangraam Senani Taamra-Patra given to him by the Indian government.
But his grandson Dharmendra Singh was shocked to receive this reply recently to his RTI query seeking records of Raj Narain’s role as a freedom fighter and the time he spent in jail: “The name of Shri Raj Narain is not found either in sanction or rejection register of Uttar Pradesh (of freedom fighters receiving pension).”
Ironically, says Dharmendra Singh, it was the Indira government that had recognised Raj Narain’s role as a freedom fighter, giving him the Taamra-Patra in 1972, on the 25th anniversary of Independence. As recently as 23 February 2007, while issuing a first-day cover in his name, the Department of Posts had said Raj Narain played a crucial role in organising the Quit India Movement around Varanasi, and had carried a reward of “Rs 5,000, dead or alive” on his head.