On governors, Deendayal Upadhyay differed with BJP

The Narenda Modi government has faced criticism since it took office over replacing “arbitrarily” governors, picking its own candidates for different Raj Bhavans, and “misusing” the post.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: September 22, 2016 12:16 pm
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While the three-day BJP National Council meeting beginning Friday is dedicated to party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay and party leaders are set to discuss his views, the former Jana Sangh president had a different opinion from the ruling dispensation on several issues, the key among them probably being appointment of governors to states.

The Narenda Modi government has faced criticism since it took office over replacing “arbitrarily” governors, picking its own candidates for different Raj Bhavans, and “misusing” the post. Upadhyay, in contrast, was opposed to the Central government or the Union Home Ministry having any role in the appointment of governors.

In his first address after taking over as Jana Sangh president at Calicut in 1967, Upadhyay had said the posts should go to retired judges instead of former civil servants or retired politicians.

Upadhyay was also opposed to the suggestion that governors should be elected. Concerned over “arbitrary conduct” of governors appointed by successive Congress governments at the Centre, he said in his 1967 speech, “Appointees…should be men of integrity capable of exercising their discretion in a judicious manner, and in whose impartiality there is general confidence. I think it would be better if instead of selecting rejected politicians or retired civil servants for this job, the government turned its eyes to retired judges of Supreme Court.”

He had even suggested the procedure: “A list may be drawn up on the basis of their dates of retirement and posts of governors falling vacant…may be filled by these judges in order of priority. If some such convention is followed, neither the consent of the state government concerned, nor wishes of the Home Ministry would have any relevance.”

BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh, however, said, “Upadhyayji’s views are valuable to us but what he had said about appointment of governors related to the political situation of that period. One must look at it in that context,”. He added, “The credibility of judiciary over a period of time has become a question mark – what fitted in 1960s may not be applicable now.”

BJP leaders said the National Council at Kozhikode, in which Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to announce programmes for the welfare of the poor and launch a logo for government schemes in Upadhyay’s name, would focus on two philosophies of the late leader – integral humanism and Antyodaya. On his birth centenary, Upadhyay is set to be declared as the BJP-led government’s new icon and guide for its policies.

Upadhyay was against political untouchability

Upadhyay, who is set to be declared as the BJP government’s new icon and guide in its policies, was one of the first political leaders who spoke against political untouchability to any parties. According to O Rajagopal, the BJP’s sole MLA in Kerala, who attended the 1967 session in Calicut, an alliance with the Communist Party of India in Bihar as a part of Samyukta Vidhayak Dal, formed by BJS and Socialist parties. “Balraj Madhok was of the view that the Jana Sangh should not have any truck with Communist parties because both are ideologically rivals. But Deendayalji maintained that we should not have political untouchability to any parties as it is equally bad as social untouchability,” Rajagopal told The Indian Express.

Upadhyay mentioned the issue in his presidential address too. “It is a matter of regret that some of the constituents of these coalitions failed to appreciate the ideological limitations under which such coalitions would necessarily have to function, and tried to use these governments as instruments for the execution for their respective party policies. As the result of this partisan approach and lack of a sense of responsibility, these governments have been subject to internal strains, and have had always to work under a shadow of uncertainty.”

He said the coalition experiment had “given birth to a sense of realism and a habit of objective political appraisal, that, in itself, would be a gain” and that it was a commendable step to eradicate political untouchability.”A readiness to appreciate an opponent’s viewpoint and a willingness on the part of different parties to work together inspite of variations of policy is an index of a democratic temperament and of the nation’s basic homogeneity,” he said.Rajagopal also said it was Deendayal Upadhyay who had prompted the BJS to adopt

Rajagopal also said it was Deendayal Upadhyay who had prompted the BJS to adopt three-language policy. “He insisted that the mother tongue could be the medium for official communication and education in the states but English and Hindi should be there as the link language. While asserting on the importance of mother tongue, he had held both Hindi and English as important keeping the diversity of the country in mind.”