Bihar: Political parties compete over Karpoori Jayanti celebrations

25 Jan 2016 | By Prachi

The Janata Dal (United) (JDU) and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) jostled for the spotlight during the birth anniversary of Karpoori Thakur, Bihar's Dalit activist.

Vying to top the BJP, JD(U) leader and present Chief Minister of Bihar- Nitish Kumar called for the social activist to be granted the Bharat Ratna posthumously at the JD(U) celebrations.

Meanwhile, BJP and RJD also conducted parallel celebrations.

In context: Bihar: The fight over Karpoori Thakur's legacy

Introduction Who was Karpoori Thakur?

Karpoori Thakur (24 January 1924 – 17 February 1988) was a socialist leader from Bihar, who served twice as Bihar's Chief Minister.

Hailing from an extremely backward caste, the 'Jan Nayak' as he was called popularly, championed the rights of Dalits and backward castes.

He helped establish educational institutions in backward areas in Bihar and also introduced reservations in government jobs for backward castes.

A staunch Hindi votary, social reformer

During his reign as Education Minister, Kapoori Thakur removed English as a compulsory subject in Bihar's matriculation curriculum. As Chief Minister, he imposed a total prohibition of alcohol in the state.
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Bihar's votebank politics over Karpoori Jayanti

Votebank PoliticsBihar's votebank politics over Karpoori Jayanti

Extremely backward castes (EBCs) comprise ~28% of Bihar's electorate, a tipping point for political parties vying for power in Bihar.

Birth-anniversary celebrations of backward castes leader Karpoori Thakur, have been turned into a major political tool by all parties to secure local support.

BJP, traditionally supported by Bihar's upper castes, recently started celebrating Karpori Jayanti to win ECB's support from JD(U)-RJD.

BJP's Karpoori Jayanti celebrations

In 2014, for the first time in the history of the Bihar BJP, Union Minister Rajnath Singh initiated the commemoration of the social leader Karpoori Thakur's birth anniversary.

22 Jan 2016BJP-JDU spat over venue for Karpoori Jayanti celebrations

The BJP and the ruling Janata Dal United locked horns over who would carry out Karpoori Thakur's birthday celebrations at the famed SK Memorial Hall.

The BJP alleged that the Chief Minister had deliberately cancelled their booking of the hall, so as to allow JDU to carry out their celebrations.

Finally, Patna High Court resolved the matter and allowed JDU to use the venue.

25 Jan 2016Bihar: Political parties compete over Karpoori Jayanti celebrations