Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan, one of the most respected of India's older generation of political leaders,?
Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan, one of the most respected of India's older generation of political leaders, is reported to be gravely ill at his home in Patna, in the state of Bihar. He is 75.
SYNOPSIS: "J.P, as he is generally known in India, has never held government office. He has been a moral leader rather than a party politician. For many years, he was a close associate of the founders of independent India, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharal Nehru. But in 1975, he was leading a campaign to force Nehru's daughter, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, out of office. He regarded he as dictatorial, and her administration as corrupt.
He achieved his objective in March of last year, when he threw all the weight of his prestige behind the newly-formed Janata Party to fight the general election. The party, an amalgamation of four opposition groups, won the election, and choose Mr. Moraji Desai as its leader. Mr. Desai, like Mr. Narayan, had once been a member of the Congress Party; but both had parted company with it and gone into opposition. They had both been detained when Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency in June 1975.
"J.P." had been in prison before for his beliefs: in the days of British rule he had been active in the "Quit India" movement. This was when he was associated with the Congress Party. After independence, he left it, first to form his own Socialist Party, and later to withdraw from organised politics altogether. From the mid-1950s until he re-emerged to campaign against Mrs. Gandhi, he had devoted himself to movements to distribute land to the poor and improve their standard of life in accordance with the teachings of the Mahatma. In his youth, he had been a Marxist; later he developed a concept of popular democracy at village level.
Campaigning in the general election last March was too much for Mr. Narayan, at 74. His health had been undermined by his period of detention.
Midway through the campaign he had to go into hospital. He continued to take a keen interest, and other politicians, like Mr. Jagajivan Ram, went to keep him informed about how the campaign was going. Mr. Narayan has suffered for some years from a kidney complaint, and also has heart trouble.