Karpoori Thakur (24 January 1924 – 17 February 1988) was an Indian politician from the Bihar state. He was popularly known as Jan Nayak (Hindi for “the people’s leader”). He served as the Chief Minister of Bihar from December 1970 to June 1971 (Socialist Party/Bharatiya Kranti Dal), and from December 1977 to April 1979 (Janata Party).
Karpoori Thakur, son of Gokul Thakur & Ramdulari Devi, was born in Pitaunjhia (now renamed to Karpuri Gram) village of the Samastipur District of British India. As a student activist, he left his graduate college to join the Quit India Movement. For his participation in the Indian independence movement, he spent 26 months in prison.
After India gained independence, Thakur worked as a teacher in his village’s school. He became a member of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha in 1952. He was arrested for leading P & T employees during the general strike of the Central Government employees in 1960. In 1970, he undertook a fast unto death for 28 days to promote the cause of Telco labourers.
Thakur was a votary of Hindi language, and as the education minister of Bihar, he removed English as the compulsory subject for the matriculation curriculum. It is alleged that the Bihari students suffered due to the resulting low standards of English-medium education in the state. Thakur served as a minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, before becoming the first non-Congress socialist Chief Minister of Bihar in 1970.He also enforced total prohibition of alcohol in Bihar. During his reign, many schools and colleges were established in his name in the backward areas of Bihar. A socialist leader, Karpoori Thakur was close to Jaya Prakash Narayan.During the emergency in India (1975–77), he and other prominent leaders of Janata Party led the “Total Revolution” movement aimed at non-violent transformation of the Indian society. After the Janata Party came to power, he won the chief ministership battle from the then Bihar Janata Party President Satyendra Narayan Sinha to become the Bihar Chief Minister for a second term in 1977. However he could not last his full term because he lost the leadership battle in 1979 from Ram Sundar Das whom his adversaries placed against him and was replaced as chief minister. In 1979, Premlata Rai, a 35-year-old schoolteacher from Kathmandu, accused Thakur of raping her while he was hiding in Nepal during the Emergency.She also complained that she was wrongfully confined when she visited Patna.
Thakur was known as the champion of the cause of the Dalits and the poor.He introduced reservation for the backward classes in the Government jobs, in 1978.
Thakur served as the President of Samyukta Socialist Party. He is called a mentor to the prominent Bihari leaders such as Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, and Nitish Kumar. Karpoori Thakur’s birthplace, Pitaunjhia, was renamed to Karpuri Gram (Hindi for “Karpuri village”) after his death in 1988. The Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Law College) in Buxar is also named after him. The Department of Posts released a commemorative stamp in his memory.The government has taken immense commemorative measures that includes naming several stadiums after Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur in the state, establishment of scores of colleges and statues in most of the districts, Karpuri Thakur Museum,Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur hospitals in Samastipur and Darbhanga, publication of Karpuri Thakur’s speeches in legislative and documentary formation on Karpuri Thakur.