BJP em­barks on nos­tal­gic jour­ney in Kozhikode

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Amita Shah

New Delhi: Nearly five decades af­ter its ide­o­logue Deen­dayal Upad­hyaya was elected Bharatiya Jan Sangh Pres­i­dent, the BJP will go down mem­ory lane in Kozhikode. The party is plan­ning a get to­gether of all those who at­tended that ses­sion in the coastal city of Ker­ala in 1967, ahead of its Na­tional Coun­cil meet­ing next week end.

It was in the Zamor­ins High School ground, where around 12,000 had gath­ered, that Deen­dayal had spo­ken of Jan Sangh’s po­ten­tial of be­com­ing an al­ter­na­tive to Congress.

At that time, the Nam­bood­iri­pad govern­ment was in power in the state and be­cause of a food scarcity, ra­tions were reg­u­lated un­der Ker­ala Ra­tioning Or­der, 1966. Se­nior BJP leader and Party’s first MLA from Ker­ala Ra­jagopal re­calls that when Jan Sangh lead­ers met EMS to tell him that around 10,000 del­e­gates would at­tend the meet, Nam­bood­iri­pad felt it was a highly ex­ag­ger­ated num­ber. The del­e­ga­tion told him they would have to ask del­e­gates to carry ra­tions. The chief min­is­ter fi­nally asked the rev­enue board mem­ber to make nec­es­sary ar­range­ments. “It so hap­pened that over 12,000 turned up,” said Ra­jagopal, a prac­tic­ing lawyer who had joined BJS as a full­time mem­ber in that ses­sion.

OA­mong the oth­ers who at­tended the ses­sion were for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee, for­mer deputy Prime Min­is­ter LK Ad­vani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Bhai Ma­havir, all of whom later be­came found­ing mem­bers of the BJP. Deen­dayal had t a k e n o v e r from Bal­raj Mad­hok as pres­i­dent of Jan Sangh.

The party is try­ing to lo­cate lead­ers, work­ers and Sangh pracharaks who at­tended the Cali­cut meet, to in­vite them for a spe­cial ses­sion, sources said. Among lead­ers from the state who could be at­tend­ing it are K Ra­man Pil­lai, Ayappa Panicker and P Narayanan.

With 1967 be­ing the year when Congress’s mo­nop­oly was bro­ken bring­ing sev­eral non- Congress par­ties to power in states, the BJS was then shar­ing power with other par­ties in Ut­tar Pradesh ( Chaud­hury Cha­ran Singh’s Lok Dal), Haryana ( Rao Viren­dra Singh’s Vishal Haryana Party), Pun­jab ( Akali Dal), and Mad­hya Pradesh, where Govind Narayan Singh had floated a party. The BJP had deputy chief min­is­ters in Bi­har, UP, Haryana and Mad­hya Pradesh.

“That was when the Jan Sangh had tasted power for the first time and now BJP is in power at the Cen­tre and in so many states,” said R Balashankar, BJP leader who heads the party’s train­ing cell.

Iron­i­cally, in Ker­ala, BJP took al­most an­other 50 years to make elec­toral in­roads.

The BJP’s nos­tal­gic jour­ney would also be part of its trib­utes to Deen­dayal. Ra­jagopal re­calls that his speech that day had “turned an or­di­nary worker into an ac­tive one.”

He also rec­ol­lected that the ho­tel in which sev­eral del­e­gates were put up had stocked liquor as lead­ers were com­ing from all parts of the coun­try. How­ever, at the end of the ses­sion the bot­tles re­mained un­opened, he said.

Se­nior BJP leader VK Mal­ho­tra, who was then Chief Metropoli­tan Coun­cil­lor of Delhi, could not make it for the ses­sion but re­mem­bers how Deen­dayal was re­luc­tant to be­come BJS pres­i­dent. He fi­nally gave in, said Mal­ho­tra, on be­ing per­suaded by “Gu­ruji”, the then RSS supremo MS Gol­walkar. The other time when Deen­dayal re­lented against his wishes was when he was asked to fight Lok Sabha elec­tion from Jaunpur.

Manan. kumar@ dnain­dia. net cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net

Sup­port­ers of UP chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav out­side the Sa­ma­jwadi Party of­fice in Luc­know on Sat­ur­day– PTI

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