One of the significant leaders who changed the country’s political course in a revolutionary way was the Gandhian socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan. JP’s call for ‘sampoorna kranti’ or total revolution to fight against rampant corruption, unemployment and systematic weakening of democratic institutions back in 1974, and the subsequent events, led to the imposition of the infamous Emergency.
More About Jaya Prakash Narayan
- Narayan was educated at universities in the US, where he became a Marxist. Upon his return to India in 1929, he joined the Indian National Congress.
- In 1932 he was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for his participation in the civil disobedience movement against British rule in India. Upon release he took a leading part in the formation of the Congress Socialist Party.
- He was imprisoned by the British again in 1939 for his opposition to Indian participation in World War II on the side of Britain, but he subsequently made a dramatic escape and for a short time tried to organize violent resistance to the government before his recapture in 1943.
- In 1948 he, together with most of the Congress Socialists, left the Congress Party and in 1952 formed the Praja Socialist Party.
- Soon becoming dissatisfied with party politics, he announced in 1954 that he would henceforth devote his life exclusively to the Bhoodan Yajna Movement, founded by Vinoba Bhave, which demanded that land be distributed among the landless.
- He embraced a Gandhian type of revolutionary action in which he sought to change the minds and hearts of people. An advocate of saintly politics, he urged Nehru and other leaders to resign and live with the impoverished masses.
- His continuing interest in political problems, however, was revealed when in 1959 he argued for a reconstruction of Indian polity by means of a four-tier hierarchy of village, district, state, and union councils.
- In 1974 Narayan suddenly burst on the Indian political scene as a severe critic of what he saw as the corrupt and increasingly undemocratic government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
- When Gandhi and her party were defeated in elections in 1977, Narayan advised the victorious Janata party in its choice of leaders to head the new administration.