Former Chief Minister Of Bihar and champion of the cause of backward classes has been awarded Bharat Ratna (posthumously).
Karpoori Thakur (24 January 1924 – 17 February 1988) was a revered Indian politician hailing from Bihar, fondly known as Jan Nayak or the people's hero. He served as the Chief Minister of Bihar during two non-consecutive terms, first from December 1970 to June 1971 under the Socialist Party/Bharatiya Kranti Dal and then from December 1977 to April 1979 as part of the Janata Party.
Born into the Nai caste in Pitaunjhia (now Karpoori Gram) village in Samastipur District, Bihar, Thakur was deeply influenced by nationalistic ideals during his student years. He actively participated in the Quit India Movement as a student activist, spending 26 months in prison for his involvement in the Indian independence movement. After independence, Thakur worked as a teacher before entering politics.
As a political figure, Thakur was instrumental in various social and political initiatives. He championed the cause of the underprivileged and worked for land reforms. Thakur served as a minister, Deputy Chief Minister, and became the first non-Congress socialist Chief Minister of Bihar in 1970. His administration enforced total prohibition of alcohol and initiated the establishment of numerous schools and colleges in Bihar's backward areas during his tenure.
Thakur was an advocate for the Hindi language and, as the education minister of Bihar, removed English as a compulsory subject for the matriculation curriculum. He played a crucial role in implementing reservations for Backward Castes in government jobs.
During the Emergency in India (1975–77), Thakur, along with other leaders of the Janata Party, led the "Total Revolution" movement aimed at the non-violent transformation of Indian society. The internal tensions within the Janata Party led to Thakur's resignation in 1979 over the reservation policy for Backward Castes, allowing Ram Sundar Das to assume the role of Chief Minister.
Despite the political challenges, Karpoori Thakur continued his commitment to social justice and served as the President of the Samyukta Socialist Party. He introduced reservations for the backward classes in government jobs in 1978. Thakur's legacy lives on as a mentor to prominent Bihari leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Devendra Prasad Yadav, and Nitish Kumar.