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'Beacon of Social Justice': Karpoori Thakur Awarded Bharat Ratna Posthumously

Besides serving as Bihar CM twice, Thakur was known for championing the causes of the backward classes.

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Video Producer: Mayank Chawla

Video Editors: Mohd. Irshad Alam and Kriti Saxena

The Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, has been conferred upon socialist leader and former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, according to a post by PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 23 January.

"I am delighted that the Government of India has decided to confer the Bharat Ratna on the beacon of social justice, the great Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Ji and that too at a time when we are marking his birth centenary," PM Modi wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

"[Karpoori Thakur's] unwavering commitment to uplift the downtrodden and his visionary leadership have left an indelible mark on India's socio-political fabric. This award not only honours his remarkable contributions but also inspires us to continue his mission of creating a more just and equitable society," PM Modi said.

"This is a good decision by the Central Government...We have always demanded Bharat Ratna for the late Karpoori Thakur. That long-pending demand is fulfilled today," Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tweeted in Hindi.

Besides being two-time chief minister of Bihar, Thakur was reportedly known for championing the cause of backward classes. He passed away in February 1988.

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Who Was Karpoori Thakur?

Hailing from a small village in Bihar's Samstipur district, Thakur was a freedom fighter and had been imprisoned for his participation in the Quit India Movement against the British in 1942.

In 1952, Thakur became a legislator for the first time and his election-winning spree at the state-level continued till 1985. Fondly known as 'Jan Nayak', he served as Bihar's chief minister twice – in 1970 ( with the Samyuktha Socialist Party) and 1977 (with the Janata Party), according to a report by The Indian Express.

As CM, Thakur is said to have introduced various policies aimed at promoting the Hindi language, waiving school fees, and strengthening the Panchayati Raj system.

However, the implementation of a layered reservation system in Bihar is something that Thakur is most popularly known for.

Under his governance, a 12 percent quota was allotted to members of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities, 8 percent each for Economically Backward Classes from among the OBCs and upper castes, and 3 percent for women, the report said.

The Janata Dal United (JD(U)), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have always reportedly rushed to stake claim over Thakur's legacy.

"The BJP was verbally abusing him [Karpoori Thakur] while he was alive and did not remember him for 9 years. Our party and leader Lalu Yadav were demanding Bharat Ratna for him continuously. Now that elections are near, they are remembering Karpoori Thakur and awarded him the Bharat Ratna. They are remembering him for votes," RJD leader Mrityunjay Tiwari was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

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