Barring few people and few organizations no one cares to remember 11 October, not even those who owe their political identities to the person associated with this date. This is the day on which Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan was born. People who could have recognized the importance of the date and have paid their homage to JP have already left the world.
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi settled his indebtedness by tweeting his customary message on this date, while his minister Arun Jaitley, who could not be what he is today without Jayaprakash Narayan, failed even to shoot a message. Jayaprakash Narayan was instrumental in establishing credential of almost entire rung of BJP’s leadership of bygone era including Vajpayee, Advani and Nanaji Deshmukh. Without the help of JP they could not have got wide political acceptance or have found any ministerial berth in Morarji Desai’s cabinet or for that matter. Prime Minister Modi did not go to jail during the Emergency, but he definitely used to visit his co-workers in jails and delivered to them newspapers, letters and some food items. Hence he too is indirectly related to Jayaprakash. However, there are several others like Ram Vilas Paswan who are not the part of the BJP but are part of the government failed to make their presence felt on 11th October.
Indeed, Bihar government organized some programs in Patna with Nitish Kumar, also a product of JP movement, graced some of the venues with his presence. As a matter of fact, 11 October was celebrated throughout the country as the birthday of Amitabh Bachchan. It is an irony that the country failed to recognize Jayaprakash Narayan’s contribution, but appreciated the stardom of Amitabh Bachchan.
This reminds me of a writer who scripted that it was good that all of them have passed away. Perhaps they would not take the chance to revisit the country they constructed brick by brick, especially in the backdrop of the state of mind and insensitiveness of their disciples and followers.
But this does not make any difference to JP’s public image, because he in his time achieved the impossible against all the odds and his achievements are too bright for the spiritless people of this country to look at. JP inured the people to face the fire. He taught the masses the basic elements of democracy and devised the way to rein in people’s representatives. He also called upon the people that instead of relying on official opposition, they themselves should take on the mantle of the opposition – for which he coined the term “extra-parliamentary opposition”. He was of the view that as long as these changes are not brought about in the country, the elected representatives will work for the people’s interest. He was the first person after MK Gandhi to demonstrate as to how the power of masses can change the nature of a government.
The Congressmen tend to forget things very often. They conveniently forgot that Indira Gandhi after her defeat at the hands of the Janata Party in 1977 was sitting in her house fearing political vendetta. But the first person who reached out to her and allayed her fear was Jayaprakash Narayan. He told her “Indu, don’t worry, I am here.” This was the same Jayprakash Narayan, who had been lodged in jail by Indira Gandhi, where he suffered from infection and lived on dialysis for the rest of his life.
Today's leadership of BJP has forgotten all that Nanaji Deshmukh got from JP, and the fact that Nanaji Deshmukh had asked Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani to stand along with Jayprakash. One would like to ask all Samajwadi, including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav, as why they do not remember Jaiprakash Narayan. One can understand if Akhilesh Yadav and Tashavi Yadav forget to remember him, but how could Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav forget the name! Biju Patnaik's son Naveen Patnaik too fall in the same category, while Jayaprakash Narayan’s love for Biju Da was unstinted.
The entire bunch of today’s leadership is in some way or the other indebted to Jayaprakash Narayan, but they are too ungrateful to accept that. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar said of him, "Jayaprakash naam hai samay ki karwat kaa, angdai ka, bhuchal bawndar ke khwabon se bhari tarunai ka (Jayaprakash is the name of turn of time, the name of the thunderstorm filled with the dreams of youthfulness.)" It is not hard to imagine how at that time these lines would have stirred hearts and minds of the people, but that cannot be said for sure about the generation that comes after him.
It is good that we forgot JP and Gandhi, because remembering them will reinforce our own weaknesses and helplessness. JP used to say that even if you cannot do anything, you at least can raise your hand against injustice. He exhorted people to raise their hand in disagreement against the power. How many people are there today who can intervene against uncomfortable situation or raise their hands in disagreement?