Name: Jayaprakash Narayan
Birth Date: October 11, 1902
Death Date: October 8, 1979
Place of Birth: Sitabdiara , Saran District, Bihar, India
Place of Death: Patna, India
While the story about Jayaprakash Narayan and his Sampoorn Kranti (total revolution) against the totalitarian regime of Indira Gandhi is quite well known, his amorousness with old school communism, accounts of his Congress days and his effect on the leaders of current era aren’t. For that we need to dive into the history of Jayaprakash Narayan.
Jayaprakash Narayan went to the United States to pursue higher education in 1922. He stayed in the US for seven years. To keep his education going, Jayaprakash Narayan took a number of low class jobs where he came to understand the problems of the working class for the first time. He studied sociology under the guidance of Professor Edward Ross. In Wisconsin, Jayaprakash came across Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’. That was when Marxism became JP’s way of life because at that point of time it looked like the only political alternative. The triumph of the Russian revolution of 1917 made Jayaprakash Narayan conclude that Marxism was the way to revive the conditions of the aggrieved masses. His published a paper on sociology, it was called “Social Variation”. It was adjudged as the best sociology paper of the year. His work and dedication was noticed and he received an invitation to study in the Soviet-union. Jayaprakash Narayan was discouraged by his father Braj Kishore from India for going to Moscow and becoming a Bolshevik. So he returned to India at a time when India’s struggle for Independence was at its zenith. Congress was the biggest political force in the nation. The communists of India however maintained a safe distance from both Congress and the struggle for Independence.
The Communist disloyalty of India and the freedom movement was both methodical and exhaustive. The Communists of India actively coordinated with the British Government to identify and divide the nationalists. The British Government was so impressed with the Communists’ hatred to the national cause that they released the old chieftains of the Communists rotting in Jails and deployed them to stem the national movement. All of this information has been sourced from K.K. Chaudhari’s excellent work “Quit India Revolution” (Popular Prakashan, Mumbai). When Jayprakash Narayan returned to India, he tried actively to bring the CPI and the Congress together. But he was rejected by the Old School Communists who were more loyal to the Royals than their own country. The bubble of the relevance of Communism in India’s struggle for independence burst and Jayaprakash Narayan realized that Communism was not the solution. He switched to a more practical socialistic approach by founding Congress Socialist Party (CSP) in 1934 as a socialist caucus within the Indian National Congress. It stood midway between the idealistic approach of M K Gandhi and the sectarian approach of the CPI. This is how an old school communist Jayaprakash Narayan was rejected by people of his own breed.
Jayaprakash Narayan stood for equality of all religions and firmly believed that every observer of a particular faith must also point fallacies in it and make efforts to fix the incongruities. He believed in revivalism. He was of the opinion that revival is required in the Hindu society, if it is to reach its height of achievements. In his inspiring speeches and addresses he spoke against the dowry system, communalism and untouchability. He vehemently opposed the caste system and called it the single biggest divisive factor in the Hindu Society. Three iconic leaders of current era call themselves the disciples of Jayaprakash Narayan, in fact they learnt the first lessons of politics under the tutelage of Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia. I am talking about Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Mulayam Singh Yadav. Every year on Jayaprakash Narayan Jayanti, they extol the great socialist and teach their party men and citizens to walk on the path of the great socialist Jayaprakash Narayan. Ironically these three happen to be the champions of casteist and divisive politics. Be it Nitish Kumar’s Kurmi-OBC-Muslim equation, or Lalu And Mulayam’s famous Muslim-Yadav combination, All of the aforementioned leaders have divided their states in the name of social engineering to create a vote base for them. A complete antithesis of JP’s teachings. New School Socialists are in fact worse than the old school communists. While the old school communists rejected Jayaprakash Narayan outright, the new school socialists ridicule him every day by calling themselves the followers of Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan.