'Lok Nayak' Jayaprakash Narayan
Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan, or JP, as he was fondly called by his
followers was born on October 11, 1902, in Sitabdiara, a village on the
border of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the rivers Ganges and Sarayu
meet. His father Harsudayal worked in the canal department of the State
government and was often touring the region. There was no high school in
the village, so Jayaprakash was sent to Patna to study in the Collegiate
he stayed with relatives at a hostel called Saraswati Bhavan, which was
a meeting place for students who would normally discuss the political
scene. Nationalism was at its highest and the people had woken up to the
call of fearless leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aravinda Ghose.
Young Jayaprakash became inspired by their speeches.
| Jayaprakash was also fond of reading and excelled in his studies. He
joined the Patna College on a Government scholarship.
| Jayaprakash got married to Prabhavati in October 1920. Prabhavati
was the daughter of lawyer and nationalist Brij Kishore Prasad and
was greatly influenced by Gandhiji's ideology and went to stay at
his ashram while Jayaprakash pursued his studies.
Non-cooperation movement launched by Gandhiji in 1919 was gaining
momentum. Jayaprakash too became involved and was inspired when he
listened to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad speech. Maulana was a great orator
and his call to give up English education had a deep impact on
Jayaprakash and he left Patna College with just 20 days remaining for
his examinations. He joined the Bihar Vidyapeeth, a college run by the
movement was withdrawn after it turned violent at Chauri Chaura in UP.
The disappointed students returned to college. The Vidyapeeth had no
more courses to offer. So Jayaprakash decided to go to America to pursue
his studies. Meanwhile Prabhavati remained at Sabarmati in Gandhi's
| Jayaprakash faced many hardships in America. He was forced to shift
to different universities as he did not have enough financial
resources to cope with the increasing fees. He did odd jobs like
picking grapes, packing fruits at a canning factory, washing dishes,
a mechanic at a garage etc. to pay for his education.
He pursued Sociology and his paper, "Social Variation", was declared
the best of the year. In Wisconsin, Jayaprakash was exposed to the
theory of communism as laid out in Karl Marx's book "Das Capital"
and was much influenced by Marxism. However, Jayaprakash had to cut
his doctorate short when news came that his mother was seriously ill
and returned to India in November 1929.
Jayaprakash became a believer in Communism, Prabhavati became an ardent
Gandhian. In 1929, Jayaprakash joined the Congress upon Jawaharlal
Nehru's invitation. For Jayaprakash it was not enough that the nation
attain political freedom. To him, the definition of freedom was freedom
from hunger, poverty and ignorance.
most of the top Congress leaders were arrested after the Dandi March in
1930, Jayaprakash set up underground offices all over the nation and
organized secret meetings to continue the work of the Congress. After an
underground meeting of the Congress Working Committee in Banaras,
Jayaprakash was arrested. He was released from jail in 1933.
after his release in 1933, Jayaprakash formed the Congress Socialist
Party, functioning as the social wing of the Congress party and
promoting the ideas of socialism.
| Jayaprakash was arrested several times for his activities to
overthrow the British. He even organised a guerrilla army called the
"Azad Dasta" after escaping to Nepal from prison. However the
British were able to take him in when he was on his way to
Rawalpindi and was taken to Lahore Fort where he was subjected to 16
months of mental and physical torture and was put in solitary
confinement. Finally, Jayaprakash was released from jail on April
| Independence finally came on August 15, 1947. Within a year Gandhiji was
assassinated. Prabhavati hid her sorrow behind the spinning wheel, but
Jayaprakash's mind "churned with grief and horror." He began to see the
wisdom in Gandhiji's insistence on truth and non-violence.
elections saw the Socialists lose to Congress. Nehru invited Jayaprakash
to join the Cabinet. However, Nehru could give no assurances on the
implementation of Jayaprakash's 14 point plan to reform the
Constitution, the Administration and Judicial system, nationalize the
banks, redistribute land to the landless, revive Swadeshi, and set-up
cooperatives, Jayaprakash refused the offer.
| Jayaprakash fought for the rights of trade unions and was able to get a
minimum wage, pension, medical relief and housing subsidy introduced. At
the same time, Jayaprakash was keenly watching events in Russia. The
bloody purges and imprisonment convinced Jayaprakash that communism was
not for India. On April 19, 1954, at a meeting in Gaya, Jayaprakash made
the dramatic announcement of dedicating his life to Vinoba Bhave's
Sarvodaya movement. He set up an ashram at Hazaribagh, a poor and
| Jayaprakash blended Gandhian-philosophy and modern Western democracy.
His book, "The Reconstruction of Indian Polity," won him the Ramon
Jayaprakash set out to find out and alleviate the problems of the
Naxalites and was also a key person in acquiring the surrender of
dacoits in the Chambal Valley.
ushered in a year of high inflation, unemployment and lack of supplies
and essential commodities. So on April 8, 1974, at the age of 72, he led
a silent procession in protest, at Patna. The procession was lathi
charged. On June 5, 1974, Jayaprakash, while addressing a big crowd at
Gandhi Maidan in Patna declared, "This is a revolution, friends! We are
not here merely to see the Vidhan Sabha dissolved. That is only one
milestone on our journey. But we have a long way to go... After 27 years
of freedom, people of this country are wracked by hunger, rising prices,
corruption... oppressed by every kind of injustice... it is a Total
Revolution we want, nothing less!"
12, 1975, the Allahabad High Court held the Prime Minister, Mrs.
Indira Gandhi, guilty on charge of corrupt practices in the
election. Jayaprakash asked Mrs. Gandhi to resign until the Supreme
Court cleared her name. However, she declared Emergency. Jayaprakash
was arrested and sent to Chandigarh where he was kept prisoner in a
hospital, sick and old.
in January 1977, Emergency was lifted. Fresh elections were declared.
Under Jayaprakash's guidance several parties united to form the Janata
Party. The party incorporated all of Jayaprakash's goals in its
manifesto and came to power. As his health worsened, Jayaprakash was but
a mute witness to the collapse of the Janata Party.
| Jayaprakash breathed his last on October 8, 1979 leaving the nation
bereft of one of its greatest leaders. He will always be fondly
remembered as "Lok Nayak" or leader of the people.