The Bharat Ratna Award for Late Karpoori Thakur

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Photo of Lalu Prasad on the left, Karpoori Thakur in the middle, and Nitish Kumar on the right.
Lalu Prasad, Late Karpoori Thakur and Nitish Kumar

Bihar’s Alliance Divided on Karpoori Thakur Bharat Ratna Decision

The Centre’s recent announcement to confer Bharat Ratna on former Bihar Chief Minister and social justice champion Karpoori Thakur has sparked both appreciation and division within Bihar’s political landscape. While the decision has been lauded by certain political figures, it has also reignited discussions around the need for a nationwide caste census. Additionally, parties have rushed to claim credit for the government’s choice to honor Thakur, further emphasizing the profound impact of his legacy on Bihar’s political environment.

Bihar’s Political Response

The decision to bestow Bharat Ratna upon Karpoori Thakur has ignited diverse reactions from key political entities in Bihar. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been at the forefront of this discussion, along with alliance partners such as Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) (JD[U]) and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The Congress party, while welcoming the government’s decision to confer Bharat Ratna on Thakur, has reiterated its call for a nationwide caste census. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh emphasized that the government’s refusal to release the 2011 caste census data underlines its evasiveness regarding contemporary demographic insights.

Furthermore, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, although acknowledging the decision, raised concerns about the lack of genuine justice in contemporary politics, emphasizing the need for tangible action beyond symbolic gestures.

Political Division and Credit Claims

The political environment in Bihar has also witnessed assertions of credit regarding the Bharat Ratna decision. Nitish Kumar, the current Chief Minister of Bihar, expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the decision, emphasizing its potential to convey a positive message to marginalized communities. Kumar highlighted his long-standing demand for Thakur’s recognition through the prestigious award and welcomed the fruition of JD(U)’s persistent call for this honor.

On the other hand, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav acknowledged the decision as a significant acknowledgment of Thakur’s contributions to social justice and the advancement of disadvantaged segments of society. He shared historical speeches where he had advocated for Bharat Ratna to be conferred upon Thakur and celebrated the fulfillment of this demand.

Karpoori Thakur’s Contributions and Legacy

Karpoori Thakur, a prominent figure in Bihar’s political history, dedicated his life to advocating for social justice and uplifting marginalized sections of society. As the former Chief Minister of Bihar during two non-consecutive terms, from 1970 to 1971 and from 1977 to 1979, his influence was pivotal in shaping policies and initiatives aimed at promoting the welfare of economically underprivileged communities.

The “Karpoori Thakur Formula” attributed to him aimed to implement reservations in government jobs for the economically backward classes, reflecting his commitment to addressing systemic inequities. His association with the socialist movement and his prominent role in the Janata Party underscored his dedication to championing the rights of the underprivileged and marginalized.

Looking Ahead

The decision to confer Bharat Ratna on Karpoori Thakur has rekindled discussions on the necessity of a comprehensive caste census and has laid bare the evolving political dynamics within Bihar’s alliances. The divergent perspectives expressed by various political figures highlight the complex interplay between recognition of Thakur’s contributions, the call for tangible social justice initiatives, and the underlying political dynamics of Bihar’s multi-faceted political landscape.

In conclusion, the acknowledgment of Karpoori Thakur’s legacy through the Bharat Ratna is a significant milestone that resonates with the ongoing dialogue on social justice and inclusivity in India. It serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of his contributions and the ongoing quest for genuine representation and equitable opportunities for all segments of society.

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