Sitabdiara, the land of JP

Sitabdiara, the land of JP

Sitabdiara: The erstwhile Korra Nobarar village (now Jay Prakash Nagar) in Sitabdiara in Ballia district, the birthplace of Lok Nayak Jay Prakas Naranayan, witnessed a grand celebration on October 11, 2001, just before his Centenary year.

Many bigwigs like then Vice President Krishan Kant, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then deputy PM LK Advani, then UP chief minister Rajnath Singh, former PM Chandra Shekhar among others attended the celebration of birth anniversary of the socialist icon popularly known as JP. I had also gone to the place from Varanasi to attend the function.

A National Committee was constituted by the Government of India in October 2001 to celebrate Birth Centenary of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan in a befitting manner and for setting up appropriate memorials in his memory. The meeting of the committee headed by the then Vice President Krishan Kant was held on September 14, 2001. As JP was born on October 11, 1902, it was decided to hold year-long celebrations from October 11, 2002 to October 11, 2003 in the country. The local organisations organised a festival on October 11, 2001 in Sitabdiara (now known as Jayprakash Nagar) in Ballia district.

Again, I got an opportunity to visit JP’s house in May 2019 during the Lok Sabha general elections. Even after 18 years, when the country witnessed remarkable development particularly in road infrastructure during this period, it was a tiresome journey of 40km from Ballia to the land of Sitabdiara that boasts of bringing a ‘sampurn kranti’ (total revolution) in Indian politics. The road leading to this place is almost non-existent. The area (Bairia assembly constituency) is represented by BJP’s Surendra Singh, who blamed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for the deplorable condition of the road, which is slated to be revamped at the cost of Rs. 8 crore.
Sitabdiara is a cluster of villages spread in UP and Bihar along the confluence of Ganga and Ghaghra rivers.  In a piece of 30 acres of land there is a memorial of JP comprising of his restored house, a museum with his photographs and letters, a library named after his wife Prabhavati Devi -all looked after by the Jayaprakash Narayan Trust, which was founded by the former PM Chandra Shekhar in 1986. Presently, the trust is headed by MLC Ravishankar Singh alias Pappu, a relative of Chandra Shekhar.

After Mahatma Gandhi’s death in 1948, JP formed an independent Socialist Party. However, in 1954 he announced total withdrawal from politics to join Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan Movement to bring about massive social change. By 1974 he started moving back to active politics. The contemporary ills of the Indian polity like the destruction of civil liberties, problems of unemployment and inflation and the faltering electoral process worried him. He set rise of to a movement of ‘total revolution’, which culminated in establishment of the first non-Congress government of the country in 1977.


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