At least four BJP-ruled states — Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — have decided to follow the lead of Haryana and Rajasthan, and are in the process of buying copies of a 15-volume collection of works by Jana Sangh founder Deendayal Upadhyay.
The Indian Express had first reported in January that BJP president Amit Shah had asked all BJP-ruled states to ensure that their public, school and college libraries buy the set, released last year. Around 8,000 sets of the books, edited by Ekatma Manavdarshan Anusandhan Sansthan, a society run by Mahesh Sharma, a former president of the Rajasthan BJP, and published by Delhi-based Prabhat Prakashan, have already been bought by the Rajasthan and Haryana governments.
Rajasthan has asked 361 libraries spread across the state to purchase the 15-volume set, subject to availability of funds. However, according to Naresh Pal Gangwar, Principal Secretary, Education, “The government has not provided any subsidy or support to this project, nor is there a centralised figure with us on how many sets were ordered, and how much has been spent on the purchases.”
Haryana has purchased 5,000 sets of the collected works for Rs 2 crore, The Indian Express reported earlier this month. Each set cost Rs 6,000, but Prabhat Prakashan offered a discount of Rs 2,000 on each set.
Mahesh Sharma of the Ekatma Manavdarshan Anusandhan Sansthan said, “We have completed the books editorially. All sales are being done by Prabhat Prakashan.” An English edition of Deendayal Upadhyay’s Collected Works would be available by the end of the year, Sharma said.
Prabhat Kumar of Prabhat Prakashan said the entire print order had been sold out. “We will print more sets only after receiving fresh orders,” he said. The Ekatma Manavdarshan Anusandhan Sansthan had worked on the set for 10 years, Kumar said.
Interestingly, a similar set of Deendayal Upadhyay’s works, published by the RSS-run Suruchi Prakashan, has not received the same attention. Only around 1,000 sets of the seven-volume collection, priced under Rs 600 for the set, have been sold so far. Two other volumes, comprising Upadhyay’s thoughts on education and environment, to be written by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and RSS ideologue Bajrang Lal Gupta respectively, are in the pipeline.
“We reprinted this set after 23 years, but are yet to receive a bulk order from any government department,” said a manager at Suruchi Prakashan, who declined to be identified.
Said Kumar of Prabhat Prakashan, “Nobody raised questions when, a few years ago, a particular publisher was benefitted after the biography of Jawaharlal Nehru was made compulsory in Delhi. We are doing no wrong.”
Senior Chhattisgarh government officials told The Indian Express that the state had bought 900 copies of the Prabhat Prakashan volumes, having paid Rs 4,000 for each set. “600 volumes were bought by the Department of Public Relations and 300 sets by the Department of Culture,” said a senior official. “As of now, the plan is to circulate these volumes to all gram panchayats. We will look at what else can be done,” the official said.
The Madhya Pradesh Higher Education Department intends to buy a set each for its 457 government colleges and over 20 universities. Principal Secretary (Higher Education) Ashish Upadhyay said the volumes were intended for reference, so one copy per institution would do.
The Assam government has so far purchased 80 sets, with the Directorate of Library Services paying Rs 4.32 lakh for them. Preetom Saikia, Commissioner for Education, Culture and Library Services, told The Indian Express that although the Directorate can buy up to 264 copies of a book, it bought only 80 copies in the last financial year due to financial constraints. The other 184 copies would be purchased in the current year, he said. The 80 sets already bought are being despatched to various government libraries, beginning with the State Central Library in Guwahati, and district and subdivisional libraries.
Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary to Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das, said the state had received a proposal from the publisher of the set. “It is being considered by the government. The number of sets that are to be bought and the price etc. will be negotiated,” he said.
Official sources said Jharkhand’s Department of Sports and Youth Affairs is handling the proposal, which includes buying the 15-volume set for educational institutions, and for public representatives like MPs and MLAs so that Upadhyay’s thoughts can be widely disseminated.
Sources in New Delhi said the union Ministry of Culture has purchased 155 sets of the Collected Works. “We have sent one set each to the 152 members of the Deendayal Upadhyay Centenary Celebration Committee,” a senior officer of the Ministry told The Indian Express. “The other three sets are to be kept in the library of the Ministry for reference,” the official said.
Sources said the BJP leadership wants to spread the ideology and thoughts of Deendayal Upadhyay in states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the party formed governments last month, as well. Efforts were on to sell the sets in bulk in these states, the sources said.
(With Inputs From Reporters –Samudra Gupta Kashyap, Dipankar Ghose, Milind Ghatwai, Prashant Pandey, Khushboo Sandhu, Mahim Pratap Singh)