The country’s Partition in 1947 was accompanied with division of Punjab – half went to Pakistan and half became a part of India. Punjab played a leading role in strengthening the RSS when it started its activities, in 1925, and no less a role was played by Balramji Das Tandon too. At the time of the 1946-47 riots, with two of his elder brothers in prison under Clause 302, Balramji continued to work as a Pracharak.
Born on November 1, 1927 in the house of Rooplal Tandon, who was a follower of Sanatan Dharma, Balramji led a comfortable life at home. He and his other brothers too held strong religious views since a very young age and were made aware by their parents of fighting for India’s freedom from British rule. In the decade of the 40s, he passed matriculation from Punjab University at Lahore. In 1943, he undertook a vow to keep a 40-day fast and pray at Shitala Temple. Kite flying was a craze at that time and like an excited youngester, he jumped from one roof to another and sprained both his feet. It became difficult to walk even, but he somehow walked towards the Hanuman Mandir. On the way met a friend, who gave him a ride for a short distance to the temple.
After matriculation, he joined the Hindu College and became the student leader. Soon he was appointed RSS Pracharak. In the 1946-47 riots, he played a leading role in whipping up support in the fight for freedom. The Muslim League was planning to attack the Darbar Sahib. Balramji exhorted the RSS swayamsevaks by saying, “My friends, let us move forward by keeping our spirits up in the face of death. If you want to live, then don’t be frightened of death. On the contrary, be prepared to embrace death willingly.” He assigned duties to 300 workers and as soon as the Muslim League goons passed on the street, they were treated with a volley of bottles and stones. The Muslim League abandoned their plan to go ahead and attack the Darbar Sahib.
In 1947 itself, as a District Pracharak in Amritsar, on the occasion of Dussehra, Tandonji was the main speaker for the RSS at Chamba and Dalhousie in Himachal. As the programme at Chamba got delayed and there was no mode of transport available at that time in the darkness, Tandonji walked on foot from Chamba to Dalhousie to speak at a public meeting. In 1951 the foundation for the Jan Sangh was laid. As a district Pracharak, Balramji was entrusted the task of looking after Jan Sangh activities and was responsible for spreading its name and inducting more and more new members.
He even went to prison a number of times and once kept a fast unto death. During the Emergency, he was kept in prison for 19 months. Four times he won the election from the same constituency since 1957 and set an extraordinary example when he relinquished his seat in favour of his friend.
This biography will be a source of inspiration for BJP workers throughout the country.
(Competent Foundation, SCU 201-201, Third Floor, Sector 34-A, Chandigarh-160 022.)