ALL SET to launch ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay as its new icon, the BJP is organising a get-together of party leaders who worked with the late leader in the Jana Sangh days to walk down the memory lane. With both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah scheduled to interact with those who worked with Upadhyay, party leaders said this would be a good tribute to the leader whose “integral humanism” and “antyodaya” are set to be the slogans of the BJP-led NDA government.
Through its state units, the party is getting in touch with leaders and members who worked with Upadhyay. The party has zoomed in on Kozhikode as the venue for its upcoming National Executive and National Council because the city had hosted the 14th annual session of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), in which Upadhyay was elected as its president.
“Besides the fact that this is the year of Upadhyay’s birth centenary, it is very apt that the party is paying rich tributes to him because it was under him that the Jana Sangh had its most glorious years in terms of electoral performance,” said R Balashankar, who heads the central committees on training and publications in BJP.
The BJS was part of non-Congress alliances in Punjab and several Hindi-belt states between 1967 and 1969. It had joined hands with Rao Birendra Singh’s Vishal Haryana Party and governed the state from March to November in 1967, Akali Dal in Punjab (in power from November 1967 to August 1968), Jana Kranti Dal in Bihar (March 1967 to January 1968), the Bharatiya Krant Dal in Uttar Pradesh (April 1967 to February 1969), and Samyukta Vidhayak Dal in Madhya Pradesh (July 1967 to March 1969).
“The BJS had three deputy chief ministers — in MP, Haryana and UP — and V K Malhotra was the Chief Executive Councillor of Delhi’s Metropolitan Council, a post equivalent to that of chief minister,” Balashankar said.
Among top party leaders, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, V K Malhotra and O Rajagopal, BJP’s first and only MLA in Kerala Assembly till date, had worked with Upadhyay.
Recollecting the 1967 meeting at Zamorins School in what was then Calicut, Rajagopal said as convenor of the reception committee, he had approached then Chief Minister E M S Namboothiripad. The CM, Rajagopal said, did not believe the meeting would attract more than 10,000 activists. “It was a time the state had strict food rationing, so the government had to make special arrangements for food. But 12,000 people turned up for the meeting,” Rajagopal recalled.