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JP's Revolution

K.N. Sud

Edited by Bimal Prasad
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1980, pp. Ixviii 406, Rs. 150.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 2 September/October 1980

Nobody may dispute that Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly called JP, has been an important factor in Indian polity for about half a century. Starting as a Marxist (while a student in the United States of America!), he became a votary of non-violence under Gandhi's influence and took part in the various satyagraha movements launched by the Mahatma for the country's freedom. After indepen­dence his thinking underwent further quick changes and he died a totally dis­illusioned man—disillusioned with everything he had believed in at some stage or other in his life. His final call for a ‘total revolution’ seemed a cry of despair. One need not be surprised if the people of India very shortly turn their backs on his memory as they have almost done it in the case of Gandhi and Nehru. JP's 'total failure’ to change the national scenario for the better notwith­standing, it is worthwhile to study him in the historical perspective. Professor Bimal Prasad deserves our gratitude for arranging JP's writings and speeches in a way as to give an authoritative account of the evolution of his political beliefs. In the Introduction the Editor, who was closely associated with JP for many years, provides a faithful survey of his life since the early thirties when he came into the limelight. The last chapter, which reproduces an interview Professor Prasad had with JP two years before his death, sums up his ‘final’ views on seve­ral important issues. It is a pity that the Editor has left out JP's writings on issues like Kashmir, Nagaland, China and Bangladesh. His role in these matters was no less important than in the free­dom struggle, the socialist movement and Sarvodaya. To that extent the exercise suffers in its totality. In 1957 after JP had been active in the country's public life for more than two decades, he wrote to members of the Praja Socialist Party from which he re­signed: ‘The past course of my life might well appear to the outsider as a zigzag and tortuous chart of unsteadiness and blind groping. But as I look back I dis­cern in it a uniform line of development. The groping undeniably was there, but it was certainly not blind; there were clear beacons of light that remained un­dimmed and unaltered from the begin­ning and that led me on to my apparently tortuous path.’ Commenting on ...

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