His 98th birth anniversary falls on September
Gandhi of Jana Sangh and BJP
By Amba Charan Vashishth
For Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) – and its later avatar Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay holds the same position of love and reverence as does Mahatma Gandhi for the Congress. While the name, fame and electoral utility of Gandhiji for Congress seems to be waning and his portraits adorn only on ceremonial occasions, no BJP function is today complete without Upadhyay’s pictures overseeing every party programme and function.
Gandhiji came off a well-off family, Upadhyayji was born in an ordinary one. The latter lost his parents too early and was brought up by his maternal uncle. Simplicity in life dawned to Gandhi after he jumped into India’s freedom movement; it was very much in Upadhyayji’s bringing up and genes.
Gandhiji always loved to travel in a third class railway compartment; so did Deendayalji. In train he would utilize his time reply to karyakartas's letters in his own hand. Once when RSS sarsanghchalak Golwalkar, popularly known as Guruji, made him to sit in a first class compartment to discuss something, the first thing he did on alighting was to contact the Station Master (SM) to pay the difference in fare between third and first class ticket. The SM told him, “Panditji, you’re the first person to be so honest to volunteer to make such a request in my long career”.
Simple living, high thinking
Gandhiji adopted a life of simplicity by choice; Deendayalji inherited simplicity and maintained it till the last. He always wore a dhoti-kurta. Even when he became the national general secretary and, later, national president of BJS it brought in no change in his demeanour. He would carry an ordinary cloth bag with a few holes in it. When a follower offered to bring a new one, he remarked, "The holes in this bag are too small to let my clothes trickle out".
From his simple looks and habits it was difficult to fathom that the bespectacled ordinary looking person was that great an intellectual. He impressed everyone who came in contact with him for his qualities of head and heart.
Any means of conveyance – a tonga, a cycle rickshaw – was convenient and comfortable for him. He was happy even as a pillion rider on a motorcycle.
He would not mind helping spread durries and dust the floor at the function venue even when he was a national general secretary.
Deendayalji was never after office or election. Office was always thrust on him by the love of the party leaders and karyakartas. The party rank and file wanted that Deendayalji contest the by-election for the Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh in 1963. Though reluctant yet he ultimately bowed to the collective wish of the party and contested. The Congress candidate against him was a Rajput who made appeal for votes on caste lines. BJS karyakartas suggested to Deendayalji that like Congress candidate, he too should retaliate by making a similar appeal to his own community of Brahmins. He got furious. He said he would prefer to lose the election rather than making a casteist appeal. He also threatened his supporters that if they indulged in that, he would retire from the election.
As a saintly man like Gandhiji, he took the ups and downs in his life in a stride. He was never unusually happy or sad at anything. He attended the next morning's RSS shakha after losing the Jaunpur election as if nothing had happened. He said, "My opponent proved more successful in conveying his message to the people than me".
In another election when a BJS candidate got defeated, he remarked, "Our man has been defeated but the party has moved forward. It has spread its message to more and more people".
Simple like a child
A karyakarta Kailash Sarang sent invitations to many leaders, including Deendayalji, for his younger brother's marriage. He was surprised when Deendayalji rang up from railway station to tell that he had come for the baaraat. He got his hair cut and his clothes ironed. "When I have come to join a baaraat", he told smilingly, "I should look like a baaraati". Knowing that Deendayalji had come to Bhopal, senior BJS leader Kushabhau Thakre wanted to avail himself of his presence and convened a meeting of MP MLAs in the evening. When Thakreji told him, he jocularly said, "Thakreji, neither did you went in for a marriage nor did I. So we can't appreciate the importance of the occasion. You fix the meeting tomorrow. I cannot miss joining the baaraat. "
Once Deendayalji was travelling in a railway compartment. A poor boy asked an officer sitting nearby whether he could polish his shoes. The officer asked whether he had a cloth to clean his shoes. On his saying "no", the officer refused. While reading a newspaper Deendayalji kept his ears open to the talk. As the boy was going out, Deendayalji asked him to stop. He pulled out a towel from his bag, tore it and gave one piece to the boy saying, "Polish the sahib's shoes". After polishing when the boy came to return the cloth, he asked him to keep it so that he doesn't lose work next time.
Once he got his hair-cut from a roadside barber. He told a curious karyakarta smilingly, "The barber had no customer and I had no time."
Strict disciplinarian, yet human
Deendayalji was a hard task master and a strict disciplinarian. Once in 1959-60 it was decided to nominate members of the Standing Committee for Delhi Municipal Corporation. A senior BJS leader Lala Harichand was adamant that he should be nominated. In the alternative he threatened that he would defy the party by contesting the election. When Deendayalji came to know of it he wrote to Vijay Kumar Malhotra, "How long we would be able to keep people into our fold by paying such a price?". When Malhotra conveyed this feeling of Deendayalji, he immediately regretted his stand and decided to go by the party's decision.
Ugly scenes in Parliament and State assemblies are the order of the day today but were rare those days. In March 1966 tempers in the Madhya Pradesh assembly ran so high that a provoked Pandharirao Kridutt MLA threw a chappal in the house. This condemnable incident put BJS in the dock. The matter was reported to the central party. Deendayalji, then general secretary, took a very serious note of it and said it should never be repeated. At the same time there was need to avoid a sense of guilt. He said Kridutt was a very sensible man and it was equally necessary to go into the circumstances which provoked him to resort to this extreme step. This changed the mood of dismay in the party.
Pioneer of coalition governments
Deendayalji was the pioneer of the concept of coalition governments in the country. When in the 1967 general elections to State assemblies, Congress lost majority in a number of States, after an open-minded discussion with leaders and karyakartas he gave a go-ahead to BJS to join the Samyukta Vidhayak Dal governments. He said in this way his party would get an experience in running governments.
Deendayalji defined corruption as "equal to shortage of commodity multiplied by government regulation".
Friend with Lohia
Even though Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia and Deendayalji subscribed to different political ideologies, yet a great sense of bonhomie prevailed in their relations. It was Dr. Lohia and Deendayalji who jointly demanded that India and Pakistan should form a confederation to end the persistent hostility between the two countries.
He felt that neither communism nor capitalism could be the panacea for the Indian society's ills. suited the Indian conditions of life nor could they solve India's problems. He therefore enunciated his own theory of Integral Humanism in which the central figure of the country's development plans was the human being. He gave an impetus to the Antodya concept of development without distinction of caste, creed and sex. When BJS leaders Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in Rajasthan and Shanta Kumar in HP headed the Janta Party governments in 1977, they gave this concept a practical shape with excellent results.
During his visit to USA, he impressed one and all, left an indelible impact. He addressed students of Negro College at Austin University in Texas. He also addressed India-US friendship Society for one hour and for one hour he participated in a question-answer session. The Texas city council granted him an honorary citizenship of the city.
An American lady enquired of Deendayalji's host: “Who are the persons in Upadhyayaji’s family? He told her that Upadhyayaji is not married and has no family. At this Deendayalji smilingly intervened, “No , no. It’s not like that. I too have a family and that is very large”.
When the lady came to bid farewell to Deendayalji she told him, “From now onwards I am also a member of your large family”.
Couldn't speak about himself
Mr. L. K. Advani once narrated that when working for the weekly Organiser he requested Deendayalji to write a weekly column 'Political Diary' narrating his experiences of his tours all over the country. For some time he did but then all of a sudden he stopped expressing his inability to do so. Mr. Advani explained that the obvious reason was that while writing this piece he had to use the word "I" numerous times and it was this what he detested.
Deendayalji was a voracious reader. At a time he kept two-three books open for reading. When he got tired of one, he would shift to the other.
He was also a good writer, equally at east with Hindi and English. He wrote two books – “Samrat Chandragupta” and “Jagat Guru Shankaracharya” which not only have commitment to the goal but also a vision and philosophy of life. This has been explained very beautifully in these two books.
Both Gandhiji and Deendayalji met the same kind of death, almost – crucified for their convictions for the sake of the nation: Gandhiji fell to the bullets of a self-righteous individual who did not see eye to eye with Gandhiji's thought and action. Deendayalji met a brutal death at the hands of a desperado whose motive, political or criminal, could not be ascertained even 36 years after his death.
Deendayalji had never been an MP or MLA. Nor did he ever hold any public office. Yet, like an ajaatshatru who had no enemy, he enjoyed so much love, affection and respect in the heart of everyone that Parliament made an exception to pay him a homage, unanimously.
Guruji paid a very impassioned tribute, "Deendayal chala gaya, sab kuchh chala gaya"(I have lost Deendayal, I have lost everything). ***