Narain on a 2007 stamp of India
|Health Minister of India|
24 March 1977 - 25 January 1979
Raj Narain Singh
15 March 1917
Motikot, Benares State, British India (present-day Uttar Pradesh, India)
|Died||31 December 1986 (aged 69)|
New Delhi, Delhi, India
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Alma mater||Banaras Hindu University|
Raj Narain (15 March 1917 - 31 December 1986) was an Indian freedom fighter and politician. He won in a famous electoral malpractice case against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which led to her disqualification and imposition of Emergency in India in 1975. He defeated Indira Gandhi during the 1977 Lok Sabha elections.
Raj Narain was the son of Anant Prasad Singh and was born on Kartik Akshaya Navami of 1917 in an affluent Bhumihar family in the village Motikoat in Varanasi. He was related to the Narayan dynasty, who were the royal family of the Benares State, and he was directly associated with the family of Maharaja Chet Singh and Maharaja Balwant Singh, who were the Maharajas of Benares State, over a century back. He was educated at Banaras Hindu University, and did M.A. and LL.B.
A Political and Social worker he organized a school for adults, a girls school, a study centre and a labour organization and became member of Congress Socialist Party, in 1934, and National Committee of Students Federation, 1939-44.He was President of the Banaras University Mandal Congress Committee and Member of District Congress Committee(D.C.C.).
He was president of Student Congress during 1942 Quit India movement, and led protests in and around Varanasi district in UP. Initially he was "underground" for three months and later arrested on 28 September 1942, during Quit India Movement and detained till 1945.A
He was imprisoned 58 times for a period totaling about 15 years in connection with students' and socialist movements.
When India became independent, Raj Narain joined Socialist Party led by Acharya Narendra Deva, Jayprakash Narayan and Dr Rammanohar Lohia and held many party positions including Secretary Ship of UP Socialist Party, 1948-51. He was very close to his Guru Acharya Narendra Deva and Dr.Rammanohar Lohia.Dr. Lohia described him as "a person who has heart of a Lion and practices of Gandhi". Dr. Lohia admired him a lot, and even said that "if in India there could be just three or four persons like him, dictatorship can never shadow the democracy".
He was elected to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1952 and was Leader of Opposition"in the Assembly until 1962.The parties he was affiliated with included CSP,1934-48, Socialist Party, 1948-52, Praja Socialist Party,1952-1955.Socialist Party,1956-64.Samyukta Socialist Party,1964-72.Socialist Party, 1971-72, Socialist Party(Lohia) 1972-74, Bhartiya Lok Dal, 1974-77.Janata Party, 1977-79, Janata Party (S), 1979-80. Democratic Socialist Party, 1981-83.Janata Party, 1983-84, and Socialist Party 1984 till his death in 1986. Party positions he held included, Member National Executive, PSP, 1954-55. Chairman, Socialist Party,1961-64. He was Member of the Rajya Sabha, 1966-72 and 1974-77. Raj Narain opposed policies and practices of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and stood in 1971 Lok Sabha elections from Rai Bareli, as an SSP Candidate, although he suffered a defeat from her in 1971 elections but he accused Indira Gandhi of corrupt electoral practices and filed an election petition against her. The Allahabad High Court on 12 June 1975 upheld the accusations[Note 1] and set aside the election of Indira Gandhi and also disqualified her to contest Lok Sabha election for next 6 years, which led to the imposition of Emergency in India. Nationwide protest started and streets were flooded with people under the leadership of Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan and Raj Narain.This was biggest drama of Indian politics after independence with Raj Narain as one of the main protagonist.
Known as biggest critique and adversary of Indira Gandhi, upon Imposition of Emergency, Raj Narain was immediately arrested and imprisoned on the same day along with several leading opposition leaders including J.P. Narayan, Morarji Desai, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Charan Singh, L. K. Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee without any advance notice and confined mostly in undisclosed locations.
Mrs. Gandhi lifted the state of emergency in January 1977, dissolved Lok Sabha and arranged fresh elections to the body. Narain joined with other opposition parties to form the Janata alliance to face Mrs. Gandhi's Congress party. Narain once again stood against her from the Rai Bareli constituency. He defeated her with a margin of more than fifty thousand votes.The Janata alliance also swept the election throughout North India to form the majority in the parliament (Lok Sabha). Narain reluctantly joined the Morarji Desai government and became Minister of Health and Family Welfare. Narain's stint as minister lasted just over a year when he and Charan Singh were asked to resign for criticizing the Janata government.Later on, he demanded that Janata party members with ties to the Hindu Nationalist, RSS renounce those ties to avoid split loyalties. When this was ignored, he resigned from the party to float a new outfit called Janata(S), S for secular. He was able to attract enough defectors from the former socialist and BLD factions to make the Morarji Desai government lose a vote of confidence in the parliament and lose power. Raj Narain's performance in the 1977-1979 Janata period has been described as that of Buffoon, practitioner of Guerilla theater, and as a stalking horse for Charan Singh Raj Narain had earlier called himself Hanuman to Charan Singh's Ram. He lost 1980 Lok Sabha election to Kamlapati Tripathi in Varanasi. Later he fell out with his mentor Charan Singh and Raj Narain stood against Singh in the Baghpat constituency in 1984. At this time, in his opinion, his Ram turned in to a Ravan and had to be destroyed
Inspector of Congress Socialist Party, 1946. District Secretary, Congress Socialist Party (SP), 1946.
Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Socialist Party (SP), 1948-51. Convener, 'Janvani Diwas' of Socialist Party in Delhi, on 9 June 1951.
Member National Executive, PSP, 1954-55.
Joined Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP) after the merger of PSP and SP.
General Secretary Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP), 1964-66.
Revived Socialist Party (Lohia), in 1972 and was its Member, 1972-74. Merged SSP (Lohia) into BKD in 1974 and formed Bhartiya Lok Dal
Formed Janata Party in 1977 after the merger of BLD, Bhartiya Jana sangh, Congress (O), Socialist Party and Congress for Democracy (CFD)
Contested against former Prime Minister Charan Singh, in 1984 Lok Sabha elections from Baghpat (U.P.) Formed Socialist Party in 1985, and was associated with this party till his death in 1986.
Raj Narain was married and had three sons and one daughter. Raj Narain published 'Janmukh'-a weekly from Varanasi and has been on the editorial board of 'Jan' a monthly established by Dr Rammanohar Lohia.