The killing of 18 Indian soldiers in Uri on Sunday by Pak-sponsored terrorists will overshadow BJP’s three-day national council meeting beginning Friday in Kerala’s northern coastal district of Kozhikode.
Even as the council is expected to send out a strong message to Islamabad and the Marxists in Kerala, it is being used to showcase late homespun intellectual and RSS ideologue Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya as a counter to India’s first Prime Minister and Cambridge-educated Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Marketing Deendayal Upadhyaya
The BJP and Modi government have already taken a series of steps to market Upadhyaya as an ideal icon for the younger generation. A number of welfare schemes have already been named after him. The Kozhikode council will be dedicated to Upadhyaya, whose birth centenary falls on Sunday.
BJP strategists blame Nehruvian ideas for lack of recognition of Upadhyaya’s intellectual contribution though even the Vajpayee dispensation had ignored him.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reach Kozhikode on Saturday. He will address a public meeting organised as part of the national council besides attending party meetings. On Sunday, Modi will inaugurate the birth centenary celebrations of Upadhyaya at a special function before leaving for Delhi in the evening.
Why was Kozhikode Chosen as a Venue?
Kozhikode was chosen as the venue for three reasons. It was here that at a party conclave, Upadhyaya was chosen as president of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, BJP’s forerunner, in 1967. He was found murdered mysteriously in 1968 near a railway track in Mughalsarai.
Kozhikode is just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Kannur, a red bastion, notoriously known as the “killing field” of Kerala since the 1960s. Here the CPM and RSS workers routinely hack each other.
Interestingly, Kerala has the highest number of RSS shakhas after Uttar Pradesh and recently the CPM brass had appealed to the state home minister to ban the shakhas in temple premises for “conducting arms training and drills”.
With a massive show of strength in Kozhikode, the BJP wants to boost the morale of its besieged cadre and expand party base. The state is expected to witness an escalation in the turf war especially after the CPM-led Left Front was voted to power in May.
Agenda for the National Executive Meet
- BJP national executive meet scheduled to take place at
Kozhikode is aimed at marketing party founder member Deendayal Upadhyaya.
- Massive show of strength at Kozhikode also intended at
boosting the morale of party cadre in Kerala.
- Kozhikode is just
two-and-a-half hours away from Kannur, the ‘killing field’, known for Left-RSS
- The conclave, besides talking about Uri and Kashmir, will also
draw a roadmap for expanding saffron party’s base in the south.
Issues That Would be Flagged
The “CPM violence” against BJP-RSS workers is expected to come up for discussion in the council. Taking serious note of the killing spree, BJP president Amit Shah had recently dispatched party general secretary Bhupendra Yadav to Kannur to study the situation and submit a report to him.
The conclave is also expected to strategise plans and programmes to expand party’s base in the south. The BJP managers see considerable growth potential in Kerala and Karnataka compared to the other three southern states viz Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana from where the party secured only four Lok Sabha seats.
The meet will discuss cross-border terrorism exported by Pakistan in the background of the latest provocation in Uri and take up and discuss resolutions on the political and economic situation.
The upcoming elections in UP, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttrakhand will also come up for discussion. The party is expected to flag the Dalit issues to contain the negative perception about the party in the wake of attacks on the community by cow vigilantes.
Sources said the leaders are also weighing whether to adopt a special resolution on Kashmir or whether it should be part of the paper on foreign affairs or political situation.
In Remembrance of the RSS Ideologue
A part of Swapna Nagri (the venue of the national council meeting) will be named after Upadhyaya. An exhibition on his life and times is planned and events will be held in India as well as abroad round the year.
It was only three days ago that BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi had suggested renaming the Race Course Road in the national capital to “Ekatma Marg” as a mark of respect to Upadhyaya.
Ekatma, meaning “integral humanism” has been the centre piece of his philosophy. The name of “Paryavaran Bhawan” housing the ministry of environment and forest is being changed to “Deendayal Antyodaya Bhavan” to highlight his Antyodaya philosophy, which means development of the last man in the queue.
Also Read: The Sangh’s Ideologue: Deendayal Upadhayaya
Effort to Reach out to the Marginalised
Besides ideological reasons, the BJP hopes that projection of Upadhyaya’s “aam aadmi” personae and schemes such as the “garib kalyan, named after him could help the party relate to the poor, Dalits and marginalised and counter the opposition, in particular Rahul Gandhi’s “propaganda” that the BJP and Modi are pro-rich.
Ever since Modi government assumed power, the BJP has been trying to erase the image of Congress stalwarts and replace them with Sangh ideologues. In June last year, Amit Shah had critiqued Nehru saying that his idea of nation building was based on “imported (foreign) ideas” and discarded old traditions whereas Upadhyaya had “tried to safeguard Indian values”.
Speaking at a function in Pune to release Upadhyaya’s biography Rashtradrashta, Shah said, “During the Independence struggle, several people belonging to various ideologies fought for the freedom, however, after Independence the entire credit went into Congress’ account.”
(The writer is a Delhi-based senior journalist. He can be reached at @benedict18. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)