Monday, 25 September 2017

Deendayal Upadhyaya: Who features in every Modi speech?

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-68),
RSS Pracharak & Bharatiya Jana Sangh Ex-President
  • Until 2014, he was unheard in public life nor found any space in Indian history but yet finds reference in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's every speech. He is Late Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.
  • He qualified the civil services examination, where he got his nickname as Panditji for appearing in the examination hall wearing tradition dhoti-kurta and cap. Deendayal Upadhyay did not join the government service. He rather became, in 1942, a life-time volunteer of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which he had joined five years ago.
  • He never participated in freedom movement in line with RSS ideology and cooperated with British for its continuation of colonial rule in India.
  • In 1951, Syama Prasad Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Deendayal was as appointed as General Secretary of its Uttar Pradesh branch. After Mookerjee's death in 1953, Deendayal Upadhyay was instrumental in shaping the ideology and socio-political principles of the BJS for next 15 years.
  • He contested for Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, but failed to attract significant political traction and did not get elected.
  • He kept company with Nanaji Deshmukh and Sundar Singh Bhandari, RSS pracharaks who went on to play a critical role in anti-Congress politics in the 1960s and 70s. 
  • Deendayal Upadhyay is best remembered for his principle of "integral humanism", which has been defined as "a classless, casteless and conflict-free social order". It talks about the integration of indigenous "Indian culture" with the social, political and economic fabric of the nation. However, his critics point to his lectures saying he was "biased" against Muslims. Some also criticised him for not seeing evil in caste system.
  • He died on Feb 11, 1968 at Mughalsarai in UP, while travelling in a train under mysterious circumstances. Balraj Madhok, another of Jan Sangh’s founding members, has said categorically on many occasions that Upadhyaya’s death was a murder, not an accident. The then President Zakir Hussain and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi were among the dignitaries who paid tributes to Deendayal Upadhyay. 
  • On June 11, 2014, in his maiden speech in the Lok Sabha Modi said “We are people who have grown up with the ideals of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya...who taught us the principle of Antyodaya. This government's priority is the benefit of the most underprivileged, going by the ideals of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Lohia and Gandhi.”
  • On Sep 11, 2017, Prime minister Narendra Modi praised his work and honoured his statue along with Swamy Vivekananda but this was criticized by many as Modi was misusing his power to impose the RSS ideology on youths and trying to saffronise young minds.
  • Last year, PM Narendra Modi had started the nationwide celebration programme to mark the birth centenary of Deendayal Upadhyay.  A budget of Rs 100 crore was allocated for the functions. Such brazen abuse of the government’s machinery and funds to commemorate the birth of a politician who belonged to the present ruling party is patently unconstitutional. 
  • The BJP has called its national executive meet in New Delhi on the centenary birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyay in the national capital on Sep 25, 2017. More than 2,200 including chief ministers are expected to attend the executive meet. Tributes will be paid to him while the party members will discuss and devise strategy to counter the negative narrative about GST and demonetisation. Deendayal Upadhyay will be portrayed as the inspiration for economic and pro-poor policies of the Narendra Modi government. But, many still don't know who Deendayal Upadhyay was.
  • The BJP is now on a mission to propagate his ideas to counter the challenge from the Congress, which was the most dominant political force.

Deendayal Upadhyay's biographers maintain a studied silence on his role and activities till 1947 and suddenly jump to 1947 to tell us that he was made Sahpracharak of UP in 1947 etc. During the tumultuous period in India's history, between 1942-45, one does not find any self-criticism on his part rather a subtle justification for non-participation in the anti-colonial struggle. Worst is that RSS cooperated with British for continuation of their colonial rule by giving written assurances to British. Modi's RSS career and politics started after the death of Deendayal Upadhyay in 1968. He was neither a disciple nor a follower of Deendayal Upadhyay. What can be seen as common is that their anti-Muslim and Hindutva tendencies which are questionable in secular democracy. Profound humanitarian vision of Gandhi is being replaced with the parochial notions of people like Upadhyaya. The young people who have not read the history of the country are easily persuaded by Modi's rhetoric. The greatest tragedy of India today is the lack of good leader. Consequently we will have Upadhyayas being thrust upon us.

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