Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968)
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was the leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh from 1953 to 1968. A profound philosopher, organiser par excellence and a leader who maintained the highest standards of personal integrity, he has been the source of ideological guidance and moral inspiration for the BJP since its inception. His treatise Integral Humanism, which is a critique of both communism and capitalism, provides a holistic alternative perspective for political action and statecraft consistent with the laws of Creation and the universal needs of the human race.
A Short Biography
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was born on Monday September 25, 1916, in the sacred region of Brij in the village of Nagla Chandraban in Mathura District . His father was a well known astrologer. An astrologer who studied his horoscope predicted that the boy would become a great scholar and thinker, a selfless worker, and a leading politician - but that he would not marry. While at Bhatpur tragedy struck the family, he lost his brother to illness in 1934. He later went to high school in Sikar. Maharaja of Sikar gave Pandit Upadhyaya a gold medal, Rs. 250 for books and a monthly scholarship of Rs.10.
Pandit Upadhyaya passed his Intermediate exams with distinction in Pilani and left to Kanpur to pursue his B.A. and joined the Sanatan Dharma college. At the instance of his friend Shri. Balwant Mahashabde, he joined the RSS in 1937. In 1937 he received his B.A. in the first division. Pandit Upadhyaya moved to Agra to pursue M.A.
Here he joined forces with Shri. Nanaji Deshmukh and Shri. Bhau Jugade for RSS activities. Around this time Rama Devi, a cousin of Deendayalji fell ill and she moved to Agra for treatment. She passed away. Deendayalji was very depressed and could not take the M.A. exams. His scholarships, received earlier from Maharajaj of Sikar and Shri. Birla were discontinued.
At the instance of his aunt he took a Government conducted competitive examination in dhoti and kurta with a cap on his head, while other candidates wore western suits. The candidates in fun called him "Panditji" - an appellation millions were to use with respect and love in later years. Again at this exam he topped the list of selectees. Armed with his Uncle's permission he moved to Prayag to pursue B.T. and at Prayag he continued his RSS activites. After completion of his B.T., he worked full-time for the RSS and moved to Lakhimpur District in UP as an organizer and in 1955 became the Provincial Organizer of the RSS in UP.
He established the publishing house 'Rashtra Dharma Prakashan' in Lucknow and launched the monthly magazine 'Rashtra Dharma' to propound the principles he held sacred. Later he launched the weekly 'Panchjanya' and still later the daily 'Swadesh'. In 1950, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, then Minister at the Center, opposed the Nehru-Liaquat pact and resigned his Cabinet post and joined the opposition to build a common front of democratic forces. Dr.Mookerjee sought Shri. Guruji's help in organizing dedicated young men to pursue the work at the political level.
Pandit Deendayalji convened on September 21, 1951 a political convention of UP and founded the state unit of the new party, Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Pandit. Deendayalji was the moving spirit and Dr. Mookerjee presided over the first all-India convention held on October 21, 1951.
Pandit Deendayalji's organizing skills were unmatched. Finally came the red letter day in the annals of the Jana Sangh when this utterly unassuming leader of the party was raised to the high position of President in the year 1968. On assuming this tremendous responsibility Deendayalji went to the South with the message of Jana Sangh. On the dark night of February 11, 1968, Deendayal Upadhyaya was fiendishly pushed into the jaws of sudden death.
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India is celebrating the birth centenary of Deendayal Upadhyaya and the former leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) predecessor — has grown omnipresent in a short time.
Towns, railway stations, ports, projects and schemes have either already been renamed or are in the process of being named after Upadhyaya, the Jana Sangh’s most important leader until his death under mysterious circumstances in 1968. He was found dead at Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh while travelling in a train.
The new BJP-led government of Uttar Pradesh has already changed the name of Mughalsarai railway station to Deendayal Upadhyaya station.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested that the Gujarat port of Kandla also be renamed after the late leader.
State governments, particularly those run by the BJP, are working overtime to immortalise Upadhyaya. HT looks at how several BJP-ruled states are commemorating his centenary.
Crash courses on Upadhyaya are being offered in schools, colleges and even jails of the state, with the Yogi Adityanath government ordering all of them to buy complete volumes on the life of the saffron ideologue.
State ministers are attending seminars on Udpadhyaya while a 70-page booklet on him is being distributed to students expected to participate in a quiz in August. Schools have been also told to hold essay competitions on Upadhyaya while universities are organising inter-state sports meets after him.
“Whether it is the Centre or the state, the aim of all BJP governments is to reach out to the last man with the principles of Deendayalji,” said UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh.
A statue of the Jana Sangh leader has already been unveiled at the Raj Bhavan. Other plans include installation of a 51-feet statue at the Dabchick tourist complex at Hodal and setting up of a park named after Upadhyaya in Faridabad. The Kurukshetra University will also undertake research on the life and philosophy of the late leader while the state government plans to set up Pandit Upadhyay Yuva Vikas Kendras.
The government headed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched the subsidised Deendayal kitchen scheme in April to provide cooked meal at ₹5 for the poor. The state has already made it mandatory for all government advertisements to carry the photograph of Upadhyaya.
While students across schools in the state are being imparted lessons on the Jana Sangh leader, the Makhanlal Chaturvedi National Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication has replaced studies on India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru with that on Upadhyaya. State school education minister Deepak Joshi said Upadhyaya’s ideology was more relevant in modern times.
BJP national president Amit Shah pays tribute to Deendayal Upadhyaya at party office in Bhubaneswar. (PTI file)
The late leader’s photographs currently adorn the walls, along with that of the country’s president and PM, at the offices of all ministers. But the biggest tribute planned for him is renaming the town of Satpuli in Pauri as Deendayal Upadhyaya Nagar.
Several government schemes have been renamed after him, including Deendayal Upadhyaya Rozgar Yojana and Deendayal Upadhyaya Matri Pitra Teerthantan Yojana.
“Deendayalji was a great nationalist and deserves due honour,” said state tourism minister Satpal Maharaj. Upadhyaya’s picture is also being used on government letterheads.
The BJP last week asked elected representatives in the state to use a logo featuring a photograph of Upadhyaya on all letterheads.
“We were shown a sample of the logo with photos of Upadhyaya and other BJP leaders. We have been directed to print the logo on letterheads within two or three days,” Shiv Singh Bhont, Udaipur mayor, said. Opposition parties have decried the move, with the Congress accusing the BJP government of attempting to impose ‘Hindutva’ ideology.
State education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said five model colleges — all named Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Adarsh Mahavidyalaya — will start functioning in the state from September. The government also has plans to set up similar colleges exclusively for girls in minority-dominated areas.
But organisations such as the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) are critical of the move. “...Upadhyaya has no relevance in Assam. BJP could have named the colleges after state icons such as Lakshminath Bezbaroa or Gopinath Bordoloi,” said AASU president Dipankar Nath.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently in Kutch’s Kandla, where he suggested that the port be renamed after Upadhyaya.
“We are in the year of birth century of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. I would like to suggest to Nitin Gadkariji to rename this port as the Deen Dayal Upadhayaya Kandla port,” the Prime Minister said. Officials said the PM’s wish will be translated into reality very soon.
(With inputs from Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Jaipur and Dehradun)