Bharat Ratna for Karpoori Thakur: Modi plays OBC card

Karpoori Thakur

Rama Krishna Sangem

This year’s India’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna has been conferred on late Bihar CM Karpoori Thakur, a day before his centenary is celebrated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is behind this decision to choose Karpoori Thakur for Bharat Ratna on the occasion of Republic Day January 26, 2024, has surprised all in the country.  Even most BJP leaders, most of the OBC background, are thrilled to receive the news.

PM Modi usually surprises all through his choices for high positions. For instance, no one imagined that he would pick Yogi Adiyanaath, an OBC as UP CM. Or none imagined the choice of Ramnath Kovind first and later Draupadi Murmu as candidates for the post of President of India. So is the case with recently sworn in CMs of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. And now, Karpoori Thakuar for Bharat Ratna!

In fact, Bharat Rathna is not given for the last few years, for want of a right candidate or lack of unanimity at the highest level in the government. Apparently, it is the PM who decides the person for this coveted award. There are hundreds of  demands from different states and different quarters for presenting this award for their choicest personality. It’s very difficult to choose one for Bharat Ratna.

That Bharat Ratna went to Karpoori Thakuar just a day after consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has really surprised one and all in the country’s polity. None of Thakur’s political heirs – neither Bihar CM Nitish Kumar not former CM Lalu Prasad Yadav – most have imagined that their leader, political guru would get this award. Leave alone dozens of socialists and the left of the centre leaders in the Congress.


PM Modi claims Karpoori Thakuar’s legacy

By presenting Bharat Ratna award posthumously to Karpoori Thakuar, the PM has consciously chosen to achieve two goals -One, to claim the legacy of late Bihar CM, for his simplicity, humble origins and socialistic values in politics. Two, Modi wanted to play the OBC card, as Thakur belonged to the most backward caste – Nayi Brahmin (barbers by profession) in Bihar as well as outside.

In his signed article on The Economic Times daily on January 24, PM Modi claimed that his government has been following the path of Karpoori Thakuar Ji. Modi recalled many anecdotes of Karpoori Thakuar’s simplicity – right from his very poor house in his native village to his torn kurta as CM. We have also read news of how Karpoori’s father still practiced his barber profession in his village –  even after his son became CM of Bihar.

Modi claimed his government’s decision to supply free food grains to close to 82 crore poor people in the country for the last four years and another coming five years – as a testimony to his commitment to the path of Karpoori Thakuar.  Not just that, absence of corruption is another legacy of the late Bihar CM that Modi too is claimed to have followed. PM Modi hailed Karpoori Thakuar as Jan Nayak.

Interestingly, PM Modi wanted to drive a divide among INDIA bloc by honouring Karpoori Thakuar. Karpoori became CM of Bihar as leader of Janta Party, which defeated Congress in the post-Emergency era. BJP as Jan Sangh was part of that Janta Party – so Modi can rightly claim to have a shared political legacy with Karpoori. Second, by playing OBC card in choosing Karpoori Thakuar for Bharat Ratna, Modi wants to consolidate image as an OBC leader.

Lastly, Modi wants to remind some of OBC and socialist leaders in INDIA front that how their earlier leaders like Karpoori Thakuar had vehemently opposed Congress. So, how can they now join hands with the same Congress and fight him? And, Modi also wants to tell people outside the opposition bloc that he truly reflects the simplicity and humble origins that were the hallmarks of late Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur.

This is a smart move by PM Modi ahead of Lok Sabha elections in two months from now.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Rama Krishna Sangem

Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at