(11 October 1902 – 8 October 1979)
Nowadays we are able to see people 'marketing' themselves as next 'Gandhi' and they claim their agitations are second Independence struggle.And the visual media shamelessly supports this claim.But these people conveniently forget the very fact that there existed a struggle for independence in independent India.And that was not a media created 'second independence struggle'.I believe,not many in our generation will be able to recognize him.And as mentioned in the title,it's all about Mr.Jayaprakash Narayan(widely known as JP).
JP was born in the year 1902 and took part in freedom struggle against the British rule.I planned to post this article last week itself as Mr.JP's birth anniversary falls on 11th October and death anniversary on 8th October.,but it got delayed for some reasons.Anyway the situation is such that people should know about him.Nowadays protests has become a fashion.For some people going on hunger strike has become a hobby. And the worst part is,some people got addicted to the media publicity,so wherever a protest happens, they show their presence there.They don't have a clear idea on against what they are protesting,against whom they are fighting,what they want to achieve.But JP had this clarity.He understood the situation perfectly.
JP was not in active politics for quite a while.But on seeing the atrocities of the then Congress govt, JP came back.He didn't start a political party.He gathered people and organized lot of protests against the corrupt govt of the then Prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi.Point to be noted is,those days there were no 24/7 news channels funded by corporates and there was no live telecast of these protests.Still people gathered in large number.Another important aspect of these protests is,JP didn't change his stands to 'appease' any group.Or he did not give up the protests stating lame reasons like 'public response was not good'. He stood firm on his decision.He was clear on his goal - to throw away Indira Gandhi's government.
JP united some important opposition leaders like Acharya Kripalani,Morarji Desai,Charan Singh,Vajpayee,L K Advani etc.He organized a huge rally from Red fort to Parliament to show the dissatisfaction of people and the opposition,against the government.Around 5 lakh people participated in this rally.
Trouble started for Mrs.Indira Gandhi on June 12th 1975.Or we should say trouble started for this nation. After all just 1 letter is the difference between Indira and India.So if Indira was in danger,India was in danger too."Indira is India and India is Indira" - this phrase was coined by the then congress president Devkant Barooah.That's how the then political scenario was.On 12th June,the Allahabad high court gave a historical judgement.The court verdict declared Mrs.Gandhi's victory in Rae Bareli constituency invalid.
She was found culpable on three counts:dishonest election practices,excessive election expenditure,and misusing the govt machinery and officials for party purposes.The judge disqualified her election to the Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli.He also barred her from contesting any elections for 6 years.
The opposition started raising its voice against Indira.JP planned to organize a huge meeting at the Delhi Ramlila Maidan demanding the resignation of Mrs.Gandhi.The govt smelled these activities and Mrs.Gandhi declared emergency.So many people were arrested without any reason.Lot of 'blank' arrest warrants were issued,so that the policemen can fill the name of the person while arresting.Anyone who raised their voice against the govt,was arrested.JP too was arrested.Mrs.Gandhi thought putting the opposition leaders in jail would weaken them.People will forget the opposition. Around 1,10,806 people were kept in jail without any reason or inquiry.So many people died in jail itself,during emergency.
Indira felt the JP movement lost its momentum.She felt conducting fresh elections will bring her back to power.And also, due to immense pressure from various parts of the world, she lifted the emergency.The scenario was such that Mrs.Gandhi was all set to return to power again.But again JP played an important role in forming a proper opposition.There were many leaders like Morarji Desai,Charan Singh,Jagjivan Ram, Vajpayee,Advani etc.Individually everyone had a good reputation and their parties were capable of winning some seats.But that was not enough.That was not at all enough to beat the grand old party of India.
Politics is a different game.People are the judges there.They have punished corrupt-inefficient governments so many times.To do that,they need an opposition.If a corrupt X has to be thrown out,you need a powerful Y. But the problem was there were many parties in the opposition.If they contest individually,the anti-incumbency factor would die down.In order to make use of the anti-congressism,JP proposed the idea of a single non-communist opposition party against the congress.Because it was JP who proposed this idea,other leaders agreed to it.JP had such a credibility and respect.The opposition parties merged into a single party - the Janata Party.
Still there were no signs of a Janata govt.Huge banners and cut-outs of Indira Gandhi gave a feel that she would return back with a clear majority.But that did not happen People were angry on congress.For the kind of torture they underwent for 2 years,they wanted to teach a strong lesson to Mrs.Indira Gandhi and the congress party. They were expecting a way to do that.Either Congress or the Janata Party was the question.Veteran journalist Cho Ramasamy once mentioned this incident.He was speaking in a meeting.He was speaking in English and was addressing a huge crowd.The crowd could not understand what he was speaking(he said this). But after completing every sentence,he got a huge round of applause from the public.He could not speak the next sentence until the crowd stopped its noise.Without even understanding his language,his speech well received by the public.The reason he mentioned for this was,though the public did not understand his language,they understood that,'he is speaking against Indira'.
When many thought the congress will come back to power,the congress lost badly.They were reduced to just 154 seats and the Janata Party won with an absolute majority of 290+ seats."Never underestimate the common people's political understanding or their commitment to democracy" - writes L K Advani in his autobiography 'My Country My Life'.Later on the Janata Party collapsed after giving a good government for 2 years and the congress party came back to power.That is a different story.But what is the significance of this incident?
People were completely angry against Indira Gandhi.You just need a spark to ignite the flame.JP served as that spark and ignited the flame by uniting the opposition.He achieved what he wanted to.For the first time in the history of independent India,a non-congress government was formed in the year 1977.But for JP,this would not have been possible.
What many 'modern day' social activists fail to understand is 'any protest, should have a goal'.Mass gatherings alone will not change anything.Now we have a scam tainted government.As far as I know,no other government,in the history of independent India, has faced so many corruption charges.No other Prime Minister was so weak(as an administrator) as Dr.Manmohan Singh.The people are clear.They don't want congress or Manmohan Singh again at any cost.But now again,we need a spark.We need a JP.We need a Jayaprakash Narayan to bring a non-congress govt to power.Heroes are not born.Situations make them.Let us hope such a hero emerges soon.And my kind request,please don't call corporate funded 'social activists' as heroes or next Gandhi.JP was a hero.And JP is still a hero in the minds of so many people.
P.S. : An article by Iraa.Sezhian,former DMK MP and 'My Country My Life' by L K Advani,helped me to a great extent in writing this article.
You can find Mr.Sezhian's article here : Sezhian's Dinamani article