Half a million people crowded the north-eastern Indian town of Patna yesterday (9 October) to pay their last respects to jayaprakash Narayan.
Half a million people crowded the north-eastern Indian town of Patna yesterday (9 October) to pay their last respects to jayaprakash Narayan. Known as the "Nations Conscience", Mr. Narayan a pacifist and staunch opponent of Mrs. Gandhi's emergency regime, died on Monday (8 October) of a heart attack.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Narayan was an influential pacifist-revolutionary who led the opposition to Indira Gandhi's government in the middle 1970's. He was detained in 1975 during emergency rule and suffered irreparable damage to his kidneys. Affectionately known as "J.P." to many Indians he was at one time tipped as the logical successor to Mrs. Gandhi's father Jawaharal Nehru who died in 1964. But Mr. Narayan shunned political office and retired in the 1950's.
He returned to active politics in 1974 and became the focal-point of non-communist opposition to Mrs. Gandhi's government. When the controversial state of emergency was imposed in June 1975 Mr. Narayan was foremost among the opposition leaders imprisoned. He spent five months in solitary confinement until his release dur to failing health. On his release he repeated his opposition to the government but said he would stay out of politics because of his condition.
When the Janata party defeated Mrs. Gandhi in the 1977 election narayan refused to Premiership and helped to select Morarji Desai for the post Mr. Desai was among the political friends, and opponents, who followed the cortege as the state funeral would it's way to the cremation site.
Mr. Narayan's nephew Ratneshwar Prasad had been chosen to light the funeral pyre and in accordance with religious practices his head was shaved. Then watched by President Sanjiva Reddy, Mrs. Indira Ghandi, Morarji Desai and Jagjivan Ram he lit the funeral pyre. The government has ordered seven days of national mourning for the man who once said he had given all his life to the country and asked for nothing in return.