Deendayal Upadhyaya: The ideological mind behind the BJP

Pundit Deendayal Upadhyaya was the party ideologue of the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published:September 22, 2016 4:19 pm
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The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is all set to start off the year long birthday centenary celebrations of Pundit Deendayal Upadhyaya, beginning on September 23. The celebrations would be inaugurated at the BJP national council meeting at Kozhikode.

As part of the celebrations, the government has announced a budget of Rs.100 crore, 80 per cent of which would be utilised in the building of infrastructure.

Pundit Deendayal Upadhyaya was the party ideologue of the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP. Apart from his contributions that laid the ideological foundations of the newly-created party, he is particularly remembered for his social philosophies that made him much more than a politician.

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Born on September 25, 1916 at the Nagla Chandrbhan village in Mathura district, Upadhyaya went on to excel as a scholar since his first steps in school. He completed schooling from Pilani and went on to pursue a Bachelors degree and then a Masters degree in English Literature. He went on to pursue a B.Ed and M.Ed as well.

As a college student in 1937, he came in contact with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and was inspired by the intellectual discussions undertaken by the party. From 1942, he became a full-time member of the RSS. As part of the RSS, he started the monthly magazine called ‘Rashtriya Dharma’ that propagated the ideology of nationalism. Later, a weekly journal by the name ‘Panchjanya’ and a daily ‘Swadesh’ were also initiated by him.

In 1951, along with Dr. Shyamaprashad Mukherjee, he started the new party Rashtriya Jana Sangh. Impressed by his idealism and dedication, Dr Mukherjee had once remarked about him, “give me two Deendayals and I will completely change the face of the nation.”

After Mukherjee’s death in 1953, the reigns of the Jana Sangh came into the hands of Upadhyaya. Under his leadership, the party reached new zeniths. It was Upadhyaya who did the groundwork for the Jana Sangh’s political ideology that went on to be adopted by the BJP later.

However, Upadhyaya’s political contributions to the Jana Sangh were only a byproduct of his free thinking. His biggest contribution to the field of philosophy was the ideology of ‘Ekatma’ or ‘integral humanism’. The ideology was a result of his efforts to build a social, economic and political structure in India, based on the nation’s indigenous value systems.

According to Upadhyaya’s conception of ‘Ekatma’, the objectives of the individual were complementary to the objectives of the society at large since a common soul united all of humanity. The ideal human being, according to his philosophy would think beyond himself and his family and consider the common good of humanity at large.

A strong nationalist, Upadhyaya believed India cannot progress unless it stopped following western philosophies of individualism and socialism. Even while accepting modernity, he was of the opinion, that modern systems would have to be adapted to core Indian values.

As an economist, Upadhyay was more of a Gandhian socialist, believing in the virtue of large production from small units. He was strongly critical of the planning commission for its failure to address issues of unemployment, public health and infrastructure.

On the afternoon of February 11, 1968, Upadhyaya was found dead close to the Mughalsarai station. He had been murdered and the act has remained a mystery till date.