Karpoori Thakur Wiki, Death, Wife, Children, Family, Biography & More

Karpoori Thakur (1924-1988) was an Indian politician. He served as Chief Minister of Bihar twice and as Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister of Bihar. He was popular for his policies for the upliftment of poor people and people belonging to the backward castes of Bihar. He was posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, by the Government of India in 2024.


Karpoori Thakur (also spelt as Karpuri Thakur) was born on Thursday, 24 January 1924 (age 64 years; at the time of death) in Pitaunjhia village (now Karpuri Gram), Samastipur, Bihar, India. His zodiac sign is Aquarius. In 1938, Acharya Narendra Dev visited Khudiram Bose’s village Waini to address a peasant rally that he attended after which he joined the Indian independence movement. He later became entered politics and became a full-time politician.

Physical Appearance

Height (approx.): 5′ 8″

Eye Colour: Black

Karpoori Thakur physical appearance


Parents & Siblings

His father, Gokul Thakur, was a barber and farmer, and his mother, Ramdulari Devi, was a homemaker. He had a younger brother named Ramsugat Thakur.

Karpoori Thakur's father, Gokul Thakur

Karpoori Thakur’s father, Gokul Thakur

Wife & Children

His wife, Phuleshwari Devi, was a homemaker.

Karpoori Thakur's wife, Phuleshwari Devi

Karpoori Thakur’s wife, Phuleshwari Devi

His elder son, Ram Nath Thakur, is a politician and Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian parliament) MP from Janata Dal (United) (also known as JDU), and his younger son, Birendra K Thakur, is a doctor and is married to Kanaklata Thakur. He had a daughter as well.

Karpoori Thakur's elder son, Ram Nath Thakur

Karpoori Thakur’s elder son, Ram Nath Thakur

Other Relatives

He had a paternal nephew named Nityanand Thakur (Ramsugat’s son), a head clerk in Gokhul Karpoori Phuleshwari Degree College, Karpoorigram, Samastipur; he is married to Nisha Thakur, an Anganwadi worker.

Nisha Kumari, Wife of Karpoori Thakur's paternal nephew

Nisha Kumari, Wife of Karpoori Thakur’s paternal nephew


He followed Hinduism.


He belonged to the Nai (Hajjam) caste which mainly worked as a barber.


Electoral Politics

In 1952, he became an MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) for the first time from Tajpur constituency as a Socialist Party candidate. In the 1980 Bihar Legislative Assembly elections, he became MLA from Samastipur (Vidhan Sabha constituency) as a Janata Party (Secular) candidate. He became MLA after winning the 1985 elections from the Sonbarsa constituency.

Karpoori Thakur during election campaigning

Karpoori Thakur during election campaigning

Portfolios & Policies

From 5 March 1967 to 31 January 1968, he served as the Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister of Bihar and introduced several key changes to the Bihar education policy which included removing English as a compulsory subject from the curriculum as he was a supporter of Hindi being the major language. He became the Chief Minister of Bihar for the first time on 22 December 1970 and served till 2 June 1971. During his tenure, he prohibited alcohol sales and consumption in Bihar.

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Karpoori Thakur after becoming the Chief Minister of Bihar

Karpoori Thakur after becoming the Chief Minister of Bihar

On 24 June 1977, he became the Chief Minister of Bihar for the second time and decided to implement the Mungeri Lal Commission report, which recommended the institution of reservations for Backward Castes in government jobs following which infighting began in his party, and he quit on 21 April 1979.

Popular Stories

Wore a torn coat on a foreign trip

After becoming the first time MLA in 1952, he was chosen as a member of the delegation to visit Yugoslavia. He borrowed a torn coat from his friend as he did not have any coat. Another source claimed that he did not have any coat and wore only his kurta and dhoti. The then-President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, saw his torn coat and gifted a new coat to him as he was impressed with his honesty. When he came back to Patna, he gifted the new coat to one of his friends.

Removing bed from CM House

After becoming the Chief Minister (CM) of Bihar for the first time in 1970, Karpoori Thakur started living with his family members in the CM House in Patna. Once, his school teacher visited him at CM House and stayed for the night. Thakur asked one of his relatives to vacate a bed which angered the relative; however, he vacated the bed for the teacher. The next day, Thakur came to know about this after which he ordered the government officials to shift the bed from his house to other government residences. He used to sleep on the floor after this incident.

Denying medical help for his son

In 1974, his younger son, Birendra K Thakur, was selected to study in a medical college; however, he fell sick after which he was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi. It was later revealed that Birendra needed heart surgery to save his life. When Indira Gandhi came to know about it, she got Birendra transferred from Lohia Hospital to AIIMS (All India Institute Of Medical Science), Delhi. Gandhi later requested Karpoori Thakur to allow her to send Birendra to the USA at government expense which he denied. Later, Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) arranged funds and sent Birendra to New Zealand for treatment.

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Buying 400 guns for Dalits

After becoming the Chief Minister of Bihar in 1977, Karpoori Thakur decided to enable the Dalits and other backward castes (OBCs) to self-protection, particularly those living in regions that had high caste-related crime records. He believed that such crimes were happening as police were unable to stop crime efficiently. He bought 400 double-barrel (donali) guns and decided to hand them to the Dalit people which he had to reverse as other members of his party threatened him of resigning and taking back their support.

Going to the reporter’s hotel for an interview

Nihora Prasad Yadav, a politician associated with JDU, once requested to meet Karpoori Thakur who told him to come in the morning, around 6 am. When Yadav reached Thakur’s residence, Thakur told him to give him a lift to the Presidency Hotel where a few reporters of international newspapers were waiting to conduct his interview. Reportedly, Thakur was wearing a dhoti-kurta and chappal at that time, and when reporters saw him for the first time, they were shocked and said that Thakur was a real leader of poor people and no other leader in the world was like him.

Renting a rickshaw for sick wife

Once his wife fell sick while living in Patna after which people requested Karpoori Thakur to take her to a doctor in the official car (Ambassador car) of the Bihar Chief Minister which he rejected and rented a rickshaw for her to be taken to a nearby hospital.


Karpoori Thakur was an anti-dynast politician who never allowed his son to enter politics till the time he was alive. He was once asked by an MLA to allow his son to contest elections to which Thakur replied that either he would contest elections or his son would after which the MLA backed out.

Denied a jeep by Lalu Yadav

Popular Indian politician, Lalu Yadav, who served as Chief Minister of Bihar for several terms, has often called Karpoori Thakur his political and ideological mentor (guru) in his speeches; however, he once denied a ride in his jeep to Thakur when he was the Leader of Opposition in Bihar Legislative Assembly in the 1980s. Reportedly, Thakur was feeling hungry during a session and requested Yadav to give his jeep to him so that he could go out and eat which Yadav denied and said that Thakur should buy a jeep as he has been two time Chief Minister of Bihar. He also gave a name to Thakur which was Kapati Thakur.

House visit by Chaudhary Charan Singh

Once his house was visited by the 5th Prime Minister of India, Chaudhary Charan Singh, whose head hit the top of the door frame due to its low height. When Singh asked Thakur to elevate the height of his doors, Thakur replied that there would be no benefit to that until the house of every poor person in Bihar was well-made.

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Rape Allegations

In January 1978, Karpoori Thakur was contesting the Bihar Legislative Assembly byelection from Phulparas constituency when a 35-year-old teacher from Kathmandu named Premlata Rai alleged that Thakur raped her while living in Nepal during the emergency in 1975. She alleged that she returned drunk from a wedding on the night of 20 July 1975 and slept at the house of Professor S.N. Verma in Kathmandu where Thakur raped her while she was sleeping.

Premlata Rai

Premlata Rai

When she woke up and confronted Thakur, he apologised to her and said that he could not control his urges. She also said that she mortgaged her house for Rs 16,000 and also sold her ornaments to help Thakur. She alleged that when Thakur became the Chief Minister of Bihar, he refused to meet her when she expressed her wish to meet him.

A poster criticising Premlata Rai

A poster criticising Premlata Rai

She later came to Patna where she met Thakur on 19 October 1978 after which she returned to Nepal. Later, a case was filed against Thakur which was rejected, and Thakur was absolved of any rape charges. Thakur maintained his innocence during the trials and said that he was being framed by his political rivals who wanted to tarnish his image.


  • Bharat Ratna by the Government of India in 2024


Karpoori Thakur died on 17 February 1988 in Patna due to a cardiac arrest. There have been controversies surrounding his death as a few people have claimed that some of his close associates were not happy with Thakur due to his preference of a woman leader for party work. Some people have claimed that he was doing yoga under the supervision of a yoga teacher who absconded the night Thakur died, and foam was coming out of Thakur’s mouth when he died.

Hemawati Nandan Bahuguna, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Ram Awadhesh Singh, George Fernandes, Bhagwat Jha Azad, and Vinayak Prasad Yadav (right to left) paying tribute to Karpoori Thakur

Hemawati Nandan Bahuguna, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Ram Awadhesh Singh, George Fernandes, Bhagwat Jha Azad, and Vinayak Prasad Yadav (right to left) paying tribute to Karpoori Thakur


  • Despite being very popular in Bihar, Karpoori Thakur did not want anyone from his family to join politics. His elder son, Ram Nath Thakur, said in an interview that when he passed matriculation (10th) in 1966, Karpoori advised him to study hard, become a government officer, and take care of his mother and grandparents.
  • He had a public image of being very honest and not being involved in any corruption. When asked by a reporter why he did not earn or save money for himself and his family, he replied that he was not a worldly-wise person.
  • He was popularly called Jan Nayak by the public.

Categories: Politics
Source: dienchau2.edu.vn

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