Remembering Karpoori Thakur: Jan Nayak of Indian Politics

Karpoori Thakur was an Indian politician from the Bihar state, known for his simplicity. He was popularly known as Jan Nayak (Hindi for people’s hero).

Karpoori, son of Gokul Thakur and Ramdulari Devi, was born on 24 January 1924 in Pitaunjhia (now renamed to Karpuri Gram) village of the Samastipur District of India.

“He isn’t the kind of guy who can be stopped from doing something he has set his mind on,” said his father once.

As a student activist, he left his graduate college to join the Quit India Movement. For his participation in the Indian independence movement, he spent 26 months in prison.

He was arrested for leading P & T employees during the general strike of the Central Government employees in 1960. In 1970, he undertook a fast unto death for 28 days to promote the cause of Telco labourers.

Thakur was a votary of Hindi language, and as the education minister of Bihar, he removed English as the compulsory subject for the matriculation curriculum. It is alleged that the Bihari students suffered due to the resulting low standards of English-medium education in the state.

Thakur served as a minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, before becoming the first non-Congress socialist Chief Minister of Bihar in 1970.

He is called a mentor to the prominent Bihari leaders such as Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, and Nitish Kumar.

He had enforced total prohibition of alcohol in Bihar.

He introduced reservation for the backward classes in the Government jobs, in 1978. He was known as the champion of the poor.

Rajnath Singh has said, “Karpoori Thakur never indulged in political branding of his simplicity”.

The ‘jannayak’ who devoted his life to the backward communities faced opposition from certain sections of those very groups at the higher rungs of the backward castes.

Bihar’s two-time former chief minister and veteran socialist, Thakur, died on 17 February 1988.

It is said when Thakur died, he neither had a “concrete house” nor a “bank balance”.



  • Karpoori Thakur’s birthplace, Pitaunjhia, was renamed to Karpuri Gram (Hindi for “Karpuri village”) after his death in 1988.
  • The Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Law College) in Buxar is also named after him.
  • Bihar Government opened Jannayak Karpoori Thakur Medical College in Madhepura.
  • The Department of Posts released a commemorative stamp in his memory.
  • Jan Nayak Express Train running Between Darbhanga & Amritsar by Indian Railway.
  • The government has taken immense commemorative measures that includes naming several stadiums after Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur in the state, establishment of scores of colleges and statues in most of the districts, Karpuri Thakur Museum, Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur hospitals in Samastipur and Darbhanga, publication of Karpuri Thakur’s speeches in legislative and documentary formation on Karpuri Thakur.


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