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Forty Years Ago, October 9, 1979: JP Passes Away

Indian Express 2019-10-08 23:14:06
The Indian Express’ front page on October 9, 1979

Jayaprakash Narayan, who inspired the people before and after independence and relit the lamp of democracy, died in deep sleep around 5.45 am. The death came barely a week after the celebration of his 78th birthday, on Vijayadashami day.

In a signed front-page editorial, Express editor, S Mulgaonkar wrote: “In the death of Jayaprakash Narayan there departs a man who wielded on several aspects of life ln India a moral Influence second only to that of Mahatma Gandhi. JP was by any reckoning one of the three greatest Indians of this century. But he himself would have taken more pride in being recognised simply as a good man. He was caught up from his early youth in the struggle for independence and other political causes. Throughout all this and beyond it what set him apart was his deep concern for the human condition. It has been said that he shrank from political power.

The real explanation was that for JP politics could never provide the entire answer to his quest for the freedom and dignity of the human spirit, a quest which for him embraced not only the cause of Indian independence but the struggle against imperialism and authoritarianism everywhere. It was during this phase that JP was attracted to Marxism. He was soon disenchanted with the practitioners of Marxism. JP was never again to be a slave to political dogma and though he took the lead in launching the Congress Socialist Party he had already lost his appetite for sectarian politics… (In the 1970s) JP’s ideas of total revolution were beginning to engulf other parts of the country. This brought JP in direct confrontation with Mrs Gandhi’s government at the Centre… The climax was a mammoth rally in Delhi’s Ram Lila grounds addressed by JP on the evening oi June 25, 1975. Within a few hours JP was arrested with many other opposition leaders…

JP died a sad, unfulfilled man. Nobody deserved such a fate less. For nobody ever brought so much high-mindedness and sincerity to the purposes for which he

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