BJP embarks on nostalgic journey in Kozhikode
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.
Supporters of UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav outside the Samajwadi Party office in Lucknow on Saturday– PTI