As the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar has built long-delayed bridges, re-laid roads that had ceased to exist, ensured that teachers and doctors work in their respective centres, and kept crime under control. As a result, his development agenda made waves in the just concluded Lok Sabha polls.
Now, the great Bihar change-maker is paying tribute to his guide and ‘Total Revolution’ leader Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly called JP.
Nitish Kumar can thus take full credit for announcing to honour activists who participated in JP movement of 1974 — considered the biggest anti-Congress political movement in the country. [Beginning in Bihar, the JP movement spread all over India and resulted in the first non-Congress coalition taking office in New Delhi in 1977.]
Who Will Benefit: Those who were under imprisonment for one month under Defence of Indian Rules (DIR) or Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), those killed or injured in police firing and the activists who lost their lives behind the bars during the 1974 movement would be honoured and felicitated under the scheme.
Those who had served the jail term from one to six months would be given monthly pension of Rs.2,500 while those who remained behind the bars for more than six months would be given Rs.5,000 monthly pension. The spouses of those who were killed in police firing during the movement would get Rs.5,000 as monthly pension while those who had sustained injuries in police firing would get Rs.2,500 pension. The spouses of those activists of Sampoorna Kranti who died behind the bars would get Rs.5,000 monthly pension.
Those associated with the JP movement would be given some other facilities like free travel pass in government buses and free treatment in government hospitals and in private clinics recognised by the government.
The scheme had been implemented from June 01, 2009, and at least Rs.31 crore would be annually spent on it. [A total of 6,371 people had served imprisonment from one month to six months under DIR while 621 were lodged under MISA. Another 51 people were killed in police firing while 141 were injured. Two people had lost their lives under imprisonment.]
Political Import: While this is good news for hundreds of activists of the JP movement who protested against Congress rule and even served jail terms for it, Congress is sure to fume. The Indira Gandhi government cracked down on JP’s movement, throwing several of its leaders in prison during the Emergency. But it set the stage for her historic defeat and the installation of the first Janata Party led non-Congress government in 1977. Both Nitish Kumar and his deputy CM BJP’s Sushil Modi, in their 20s then, were sent to jail at least thrice. Ironically, the announcement comes close to the speculations that Nitish, a key ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was open to joining a Congress-led coalition in the aftermath of the Election 2009.