ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Karpoori Thakur: A Socialist Leader in the Hindi Belt

Born in a poor Nai (barber) family, Karpoori Thakur, a committed socialist, played an important role in politics of Bihar for more than four decades between the 1950s and 1980s. He introduced controversial policies of reservation (the "Karpoori Thakur Formula") and on language and employment, when he was chief minister of Bihar twice and deputy chief minister once during the 1970s. His political career passed through three phases: in the first he enjoyed support from most caste groups, in the second he got identified as a leader of the Other Backward Classes, in the third he was in search of a support base, especially among the most backward classes, dalits and the poor, as a section of the dominant OBCs had turned away from him. The politics of Bihar since the 1990s cannot be delinked from the legacy of Karpoori Thakur.

Jagpal Singh ( teaches at the School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.

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