With Focus on Vikas, Deendayal Went Beyond Public vs Private
(On Deendayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary, The Quint is republishing this piece from its archives in commemoration of his contributions. It was originally published on 24 September 2016.)
In the lap of the lush-green Western Ghats, at Calicut or Kozhikode, the Bharatiya Janata Party is conducting its National Council meeting. This is the same Kozhikode, where some 49 years ago, its founder member and philosopher-cum-politician Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya had taken over as the president of the Jana Sangh, the earlier incarnation of BJP. Unfortunately, just within 40 days after he took over as the party president, at the age of 51, he was brutally murdered by some unknown persons.
Left An Indelible Mark on History
Even in such a short span of his political career, Upadhyaya left an indelible mark on India’s political history mainly for three reasons. These are:
a) His thesis of Integral Humanism, a theoretical proposition based on essentially indigenous philosophy
b) His envisioning of a better-organised political party as a key democratic institution and also his non-compromising approach, steadfastly refusing to go with the competitive compromises of contemporary party politics
c) His excellent organisational skills, simplicity and unflinching commitment to the values close to his heart
Holistic Principles of Integral Humanism
The philosophy of Integral Humanism propounded by him requires to be seen in the backdrop of acute ideological conflict in the latter part of the last century. By that time, not just in India but universally, capitalism had earned a bad name and the limitations of experiments with socialism too had become very obvious.
The Jan Sangh had taken a centrist view with its approach of finding a middle path amidst the ongoing tussle between the public and private sector. Deendayal Upadhyaya went deeper and theorised a doctrine that had an integrated, comprehensive view of human life as its base.
Proclaiming that man is more than an ‘economic animal’, Upadhyaya emphasised on a quadruple of human needs which may be material, psychological, intellectual and spiritual. His Integral Humanism comes as a critique of both communism and capitalism. Importantly, it provides us with a holistic alternative perspective for political action and a foundation for government policies. His doctrine stands out for its consistency with the laws of creation and the universal needs of human life. In a nutshell, Deendayal Upadhyaya took the socio-economic discourse beyond the debate around public and private, essentially seeking a space for comprehensive popular aspirations for all-round development.
Also read: The Sangh’s Ideologue: Deendayal Upadhayaya
Votary of Harmony with Mother Nature
Upadhyaya was also a strong votary of essential harmony with Mother Nature. Milk nature if you need but don’t exploit it, was his strong appeal. With his deep insight into India’s rich history and firm faith in her glorious future, Upadhyaya saw a necessary ‘continuity with change’ in our civilisational journey. He was deeply conscious of the fact that as a society we always move “from the past, through the present, to the future!” He saw human life as a ‘phenomenon with a purpose’ and took an integrated, complementary and holistic view of human life.
Emphasis on Unique Political Identity
In politics, he was known for his bold and uncompromising views. When he contested a by-election in Jaunpur in UP in 1963- the only election that he fought and lost too -he steadfastly refused to cash in on him being a Brahmin. Deeply conscious of the limitations of democratic governance and especially the ‘headcount democracy’, he strived to ensure that these limitations cast their shadow neither on his party nor on his politics.
One of the early advocates of key democratic reforms, he was all for greater institutionalisation of political parties. “If the political parties fail in governing themselves, how would people believe in their ability to govern the country?” he had asked.
In the backdrop of an acute crisis of purpose being faced by several political parties in our country today, his emphasis on a distinct ideological identity for each one of them sounds very relevant even today. “Parties are not a joint stock company”, he had rightly warned. Again, he was one of the very few political stalwarts who had insisted time and again that parties ought to work for cultivating public opinion through public education.
Took the Jana Sangh to Greater Heights
Deendayal Upadhyaya was an embodiment of simplicity. His was not a charismatic personality in the strict sense of the term, but his charm was in his informality, affection and his ability to identify and relate with the grass-root level party workers. He was among a few who started as a humble swayamsevak of RSS and continued with this humility even after becoming the president of an emerging political party.
However, what perhaps was most important about Deendayal Upadhyaya was his contribution in taking Bharatiya Jana Sangh to new heights in multiple ways. True, that the Jana Sangh was established on an ideological and organisational foundation majorly created by the RSS. But through his relentless efforts Deendayal ji successfully built upon this foundation by creating a well-knit organisation in most parts of the country.
More significantly, he gave the Jana Sangh an ideological identity through his Integral Humanism. For ages, he will be remembered as a political leader who – to use the words of famous British thinker politician Harold Laskey – “led the people and refused to be led by them”.
(The writer is BJP Vice-President and a Rajya Sabha member. He can be reached at @vinay1011. 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.)