Jagannath Mishra

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Jagannath Mishra
14th Chief Minister of Bihar
In office
11 April 1975 – 30 April 1977
Preceded byAbdul Gafoor
Succeeded byPresident's rule
In office
8 June 1980 – 14 August 1983
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byChandrashekhar Singh
In office
6 December 1989 – 10 March 1990
Preceded bySatyendra Narayan Sinha
Succeeded byLalu Prasad Yadav
Personal details
ResidencePatna, Bihar, India

Jagannath Mishra is an Indian politician who has been Chief Minister of Bihar[1] and a minister in the Union cabinet. Formerly involved at a high level in the Indian National Congress, he was elected Chief Minister of Bihar three times. After his brother L.N Mishra's assassination, Jagannath Mishra became arguably Bihar's most powerful Congress leader for much of the late seventies and eighties. Prior to the emergence of the social justice forces under Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1990, Jagannath, by all accounts, was rated as the biggest mass leader in the Congress. He was referred to as "Maulana" Jagannath because of his clout with the Muslims that he had earned by making Urdu as the second official language of the state in 1980. A deft practitioner of populism, Jagannath had earned popularity of lakhs of teachers by taking over hundreds of private primary, middle and high schools across the state in 1977.[2] After leaving Congress, he joined the Nationalist Congress Party and now is a member of Janata Dal (United).[3] On 30 September 2013 a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Ranchi convicted him, along with 44 others, in the Fodder Scam. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 rupees.[4] On 20 July 2018, the Jharkhand High Court granted regular bail to Mishra, who was on provisional bail in three cases of the multi-crore fodder scam.[5] Mishra maintains his name was deliberately included in the scam on the instruction of the Congress president Sitaram Kesri.[6]


Mishra began his career as a lecturer and later became professor of economics at Bihar University. On 23 July 1983 Jagannath stood up in the Bihar State Assembly to make a two-hour statement in which he took some uncharacteristic swipes at the Centre. Among the charges he made against the Centre were that the state mined 40 per cent of the country's minerals but only got 14 per cent of the royalty earned. He claimed that he had "strongly pleaded with the Centre that the policy should be changed". He added that "the Centre is the buyer of our mineral products. It does not look nice that the consumer should also fix royalty rates. The second charge was that the financial institutions were not being fair to the state. Jagannath did not mince his words and said "I have told the chairman of the Industrial Development Bank of India to invest more in Bihar. I have also told the financial institutions in plain words that for everything we would not go to the Centre". For the Congress(I) high command, accustomed as it is to uncritical allegiance from its chief ministers, this was evidently too great a show of independence. Almost immediately Jagannath was summoned to Delhi and resigned on 14 August 1983.[7][8]

Bihar Press Bill[edit]

On 31 July 1982, Mishra’s government successfully pushed through the State Legislative Assembly the amendments of Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 455 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) collectively called the Bihar Press Bill.[9] Adopted amid pandemonium in the state legislature, the Bihar Press Bill prohibited the publication, sale and possession of any printed matter that was "scurrilous" or "grossly indecent" or "intended for blackmail.[10]

Mishra maintained that while he supported a free press as necessary and vital to a democracy, it must be controlled if one section of it acts irresponsibly. Citing instances of character assassination in the press that would damage the government's credibility, he said that he expected commitment to national goals and aspirations from journalists.[11] Addressing a Congress-I Party meeting in Lucknow, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said she had not read the Bihar Press Bill but understood from government lawyers that it contains nothing to gag the press. She warned that the government could not allow any segment of society, including the press, to misuse constitutional freedom of expression and that just as the constitution does not allow anyone to commit murder, no reporter could be allowed to engage in character assassination.[10]

In an unprecedented collective challenge to government attempts to curb press freedom, most of India's 10,000 newspapers shut down in protest of the anti-press measure adopted in Bihar and tacitly supported by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Journalists throughout the country walked out of their newspapers to protest what they regarded as "creeping" state censorship reminiscent of the tough emergency regulations imposed by Gandhi between 1975 and 1977.[10] Exactly one year after the Bihar Assembly passed Jagannath's draconian measure, the chief minister moved a motion in the Assembly withdrawing the bill - even as it was waiting for presidential assent. For the first time in the constitutional history of the country a bill awaiting presidential assent had been withdrawn.[12]

In an interview to The Indian Express in 2017, Mishra said he regretted the decision of bringing the bill — which he claims was taken to keep PM Indira Gandhi in good humour “at the peak of her differences with Maneka Gandhi”.“I admit that I should not have brought the Bihar Press Bill,” Mishra told The Indian Express from Delhi. “I did so to keep then PM Indira Gandhi in good humour. During one of my visits to Delhi, I saw Indiraji in a pensive mood. She was upset with reports about the differences between her and Maneka Gandhi. She had been getting bad press. She asked me if I can bring a bill on the lines of Tamil Nadu and Orissa and asked me to meet then information and broadcasting minister Vasant Sathe, who gave me a detailed brief. I went back and brought the Bihar Press Bill on July 31, 1982.”[13]

Research and publications[edit]

He has written about 40 research papers and guided 20 PhD Dissertations on Economics. He has also authored and edited a number of books.

Personal life[edit]

Mishra is married and lives in Patna. Mishra's wife Veena passed away on 22 January 2018 at Delhi's Medanta hospital. She was 72 and was undergoing treatment for respiratory complications.[14] His elder brother, Lalit Narayan Mishra, was Railway Minister of India. His son, Nitish Mishra, is also a politician and has served as cabinet minister in the Government of Bihar. His nephew, Vijay Kumar Mishra, is a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Another nephew, Rajiv Mishra, is CEO of Lok Sabha TV.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Chief Minister list Archived 19 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine., cm.bih.nic.in, accessed March 2009
  2. ^ "Poll results wipe out family legacy". www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  3. ^ "News18.com: CNN-News18 Breaking News India, Latest News Headlines, Live News Updates". News18. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  4. ^ Deogharia, Jaideep (3 October 2013). "Fodder scam: Lalu Prasad gets five years in jail, Jagannath Mishra four". The Times of India.
  5. ^ India, Press Trust of (20 July 2018). "Jharkhand HC grants regular bail to ex-CM Jagannath Mishra". Retrieved 9 January 2019 – via Business Standard.
  6. ^ IANS (27 December 2017). "Deve Gowda 'framed' Lalu in fodder scam: Jagannath Mishra". Retrieved 9 January 2019 – via Business Standard.
  7. ^ MITRAFarz, Sumit; July 18, Ahmed; August 31, 2013 ISSUE DATE:; June 18, 1983UPDATED:; Ist, 2014 15:38. "Bihar CM Jagannath removed by Congress(I) high command, detractors surprised". India Today. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  8. ^ Farz; July 22, Ahmed; August 31, 2013 ISSUE DATE:; June 19, 1983UPDATED:; Ist, 2014 11:55. "I have offered to resign on my own: Jagannath Mishra". India Today. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  9. ^ SethiFarz, Sunil; October 4, Ahmed Patna; August 31, 2013 ISSUE DATE:; August 27, 1982UPDATED:; Ist, 2014 11:54. "Bihar legislature 'passes' controversial 'anti-press bill' amidst protests". India Today. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  10. ^ a b c https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1982/09/04/indian-papers-news-agencies-shut-to-protest-tough-press-bil/daa4a7c1-a171-4801-9fa9-ad4f19129e1b/
  11. ^ Stevens, William K.; Times, Special To the New York (19 August 1982). "New Press Law Stirs Concern in India". Retrieved 9 January 2019 – via NYTimes.com.
  12. ^ Farz; July 16, Ahmed; August 15, 2013 ISSUE DATE:; June 17, 1983UPDATED:; Ist, 2014 16:49. "Bihar CM Jagannath withdraws infamous Press Bill". India Today. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  13. ^ "My Bihar Press Bill was wrong, Rajasthan bill is worse: Former CM Jagannath Mishra". 26 October 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  14. ^ http://www.uniindia.com/wife-of-former-chief-minister-dr-jagannath-mishra-passes-away/states/news/1114062.html
Preceded by
Abdul Gafoor
Chief Minister of Bihar
Succeeded by
President's Rule
Preceded by
President's Rule
Chief Minister of Bihar
Succeeded by
Chandrashekhar Singh
Preceded by
Satyendra Narayan Sinha
Chief Minister of Bihar
Succeeded by
Lalu Prasad Yadav