Hardcore nationalist, former Sangh Pracharak and former national president of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the earlier avatar of BJP, Prof Balraj Madhok breathed his last in New Delhi on May 2. He was 96. He is survived by two daughters. He was unwell for some time.
Born on February 25, 1920 at Skardu in Baltistan region of Kashmir (now in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan area), Madhokji had his education in Srinagar, Prince of Wales College in Jammu and DAV College of Lahore, graduating with BA (Honours) in History in 1940. He came in contact with the RSS while studying at Lahore in 1938 and became a Pracharak in 1942. He was sent to Jammu & Kashmir to start the Sangh work. He played a crucial role in saving Kashmir by frustrating the Pakistani plans to grab the region. He was also one of the founders of ABVP and later the Jan Sangh.
He was very active in the contemporary politics during 1960s. He succeeded Deendayalji as president of Jana Sangh after his murder. In 1967, the Jana Sangh under his leadership secured 35 seats in the Parliament, which was its highest tally.
When in Kashmir, he formed Praja Parishad in Jammu along with Pt Prem Nath Dogra to resist the Pakistani raiders and armed forces that invaded Kashmir in 1947-48. After the merger of J&K with India and Sheikh Abdullah was appointed as its Prime Minister, the party demanded complete unification of Jammu & Kashmir with India, in opposition to the loose autonomy negotiated between Abdullah and Nehru (later embodied in the Article 370). Madhokji was expelled from Jammu & Kashmir by Sheikh Abdullah for his politician stance. He moved to Delhi in 1948 and started teaching at Punjab University College established for education of refugees from West Punjab.
In 1951, he joined Dr Mookerjee in the formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. The Punjab and Delhi units were formed by Madhokji on May 27, 1951. He was imprisoned for 18 months during the Emergency. He joined the Janata Party, into which Jana Sangh merged, but resigned in 1979 and tried to revive Jana Sangh under the name Akhil Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
In a condolence message, RSS Sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat and Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi said Madhokji was dedicated to the motherland and committed to his objective and mission. “His life was dedicated to the cause and was sensitive to the society and the nation. The work done under his leadership during the Partition will always be remembered by the patriotic people. Such an arduous, dedicated and committed personality is not among us today,” said in the statement issued in Delhi.
In his condolence message Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Madhokji was “selflessly devoted to the nation and the society”. Describing him as one whose “ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense”, Shri Modi said he had the good fortune of interacting with him on many occasions. Prominent among those who also paid tribute included veteran BJP leader Shri LK Advani, BJP president Amit Shah, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Kalraj Mishra, RSS Sahsarkaryavah Dr Krishna Gopal and Delhi Prant Sanghachalak Shri Kulbhushan Ahuja.
In his tribute, Shri Jawaharlal Kaul, president of Jammu-Kashmir Study Centre, said Madhokji was witness to an entire era. “He started understanding J&K at the time when planning was going on to Partition the country and conspiracies were being hatched to snatch the State forcefully. He continued to face the conspirators when almost all politicians, governments and the strategists had left hopes,” he said.