Monday, February 20, 2006

Socialist Leader : KAPILDEO BABU : Barahiya

Dr Shaibal Gupta

Kapildeo Singh died the day when two luminaries of India were born, Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. He was possibly the last thinking leader from the once great socialist movement of Bihar. He was really a byproduct of Sahajanand’s Kisan movement, who had galvanized several Bhumihar tenants to turn leftward. Kapildeo Singh, however, had transcended from Kisan movement to Socialist movement. If economic deprivation alone had concerned him then, his natural ideological home would have been communism; but his deep concern for social issues as well led him to the path of socialist movement. He imbibed some of the best cultures of the left movement, in particular the quality of combining grassroot struggle with voracious reading. He would reel out names of several important books and authors with the drop of a hat. His reading list was wide ranging and enviable. With almost child like pride, he would display his library, a rare possession of a public figure, more so in the Hindi Heartland.
His general disposition pattern did have the brashness of ‘Baraiha’, which emerged as a counterfoil to ‘Arrah’, but he used his brashness for the toiling masses and for tormenting the landlords of the ‘Taal’. This ‘people centric’ brashness was not limited to his political movements only, it was also in full display during his short stint as a Minister as well. His brashness and academic efflorescence were in full use as a Minister of Food in the United Front Government in 1967. He, along with Indradeep Sinha (Minister of Revenue) and Chandra Sekhar Singh (Minister of Irrigation and Power), the two giants of the communist movement, not only tackled successfully the prevailing draught, but also laid the foundation for the ‘Green Revolution’ in Bihar. If Bihar is self-sufficient in food grain now, its foundations were laid by this trio. Indeed, that was possibly the only period of ‘good governance’ in Bihar which was the result of academic foundation of the men at the helm of affairs, their experience of grass root movement and public probity. After the JP movement, while the social base and political power of socialist ideology expanded, the formal party itself got eclipsed. Kapildeo Singh, unlike many of his socialist contemporaries, did not allow himself to be ideologically drifted. At the time of his death, he must have been an ideological loner. He kept up his intellectual probity and ideological brashness dying in the company of a veteran socialist, Janeshwar Mishra, fortunately not in the company of a ‘market centric’ socialist like Amar Singh.

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