Launching the year-long birth centenary celebrations of Upadhyay, Modi told a BJP conclave: “Fifty years ago, Deendayal Upadhyayji said Muslims should not be treated as different people. Do not reward them, do not rebuke them, but empower them. They should not be looked down nor should be treated as substance for votes, but consider them your own.”
He told BJP leaders that the party has to make extra efforts to take along everyone, especially the poor and the downtrodden, and draw 11 crore people to its fold. “Deendayalji used to say that if equality has to be achieved, people at the higher level have to bend down and support those who have been exploited and neglected,” he said.
“The BJP’s original character is based on the principle of the welfare of people. We have never compromised on our ideals,” he said. “No one is untouchable in society,” he said, reminding leaders that there has been a lot of misunderstanding about the party and its approach. “We have to work for the development and progress of all communities.”
The Prime Minister’s remarks assume significance because the BJP is keen to establish Upadhyay as an icon. The conclave venue, Kozhikode, falls in Kerala’s Malabar region where the political landscape is dominated by the Muslim League and the Communists.
The BJP which came to power in 2014 with 282 seats – most seats were from Hindi belts – has decided to focus on states where it has so far not made impressive electoral gains. The party has identified around 115 seats as its new catchment area because it has assessed that the performance in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra is unlikely to be repeated in the 2019 elections.
In a resolution adopted at the meeting of the BJP national council, the party resolved to work towards realising the “dream of a developed and just India, where even the poorest of the poor would be taken care of”. It said in order to realise the objective of total reconstruction, the important primary goal should be to eliminate economic inequality, discrimination and disparities.
The Prime Minister also pitched for electoral reforms. He said there is a need for a discussion to bring in change in the election procedures. Modi had backed the idea of holding both Lok Sabha and state assembly polls simultaneously. “People should have faith in the political system,” he told his leaders.
Acknowledging the “sacrifices and commitment” of party workers in Kerala, Modi condemned political violence against them in Kerala. He said it is undemocratic to unleash violence on political rivals only because they believe in a different ideology.
At the conclave, BJP leaders have been asked to work on the lines of Upadhyay’s philosophies — integral humanism and Antyodaya — and spread his message across the country. Addressing the leaders, BJP vice president Vinaya Sahasrabudhe said the new slogan Garib Kalyan would be on the lines of Garibi Hatao (the slogan Indira Gandhi launched in 1971) and Jai Jawan Jai Kisan of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965.
The resolution also said clashes between various ideas and classes in the country should be replaced by an aspiration for equality. “Social discipline shall be popularised along with individual liberty,” it said.