Bihar politicians pay tributes to Karpoori Thakur

    By IANS,

    Patna: Opposition and ruling legislators in Bihar celebrated the 87th birth anniversary of former chief minister Karpoori Thakur Monday, amid intense competition to claim the socialist leader’s legacy.

    Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad are vying with each other for holding functions to mark the day.

    JD-U leaders said that Nitish Kumar was a true inheritor of Kapoori Thakur’s legacy.

    “It was he who had introduced reservation for the extremely backward castes (EBCs) in panchayats and local bodies. The RJD ruled Bihar for 15 years in the name of EBCs, but hardly did anything for them,” JD-U leader Jawed Mahmud said.

    Nitish Kumar is set to visit Karpoori Thakur’s native village in Samastipur district to attend an official function Monday. Before that, he paid tributes to him in Patna.

    Lalu Prasad too is scheduled to hold a party function here Monday.

    “Only RJD represents the real legacy of Karpoori Thakur’s politics for social justice,” RJD MP Ram Kirpal Yadav said.

    In the past, JD-U and RJD leaders have demanded Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest honour, for Karpoori Thakur for his contribution to social justice.

    Popularly known as ‘Jan Nayak’ (people’s leader), Thakur was one of the socialist leaders close to Jayaprakash Narayan who spearheaded the movement for ‘total revolution’ as well as protests against the Emergency (1975-77).

    Belonging to the extremely backward castes (EBC), he has emerged as important icon for consolidating EBC votes in caste-ridden Bihar. The EBCs are a cluster of over 100 castes accounting for around 32 percent of the electorate.

    Regarded as an honest and hard working leader, Karpoori Thakur was the chief minister of Bihar from December 1970 to June 1971 and from December 1977 to April 1979.

    He died in 1988.