The writer, a veteran journalist who reported the 1967 Calicut Session of BJS,shares his reflections on the BJP National Council
BJP’s national council meeting held in Kozhikode has brought the martyrdom of the cadres of both BJP and RSS to the centre stage of the national debate. Perhaps this purpose might have influenced the decision to hold the national council in Kozhikode. It was also an occasion for the old Jan Sangh cadres to rejoice in the achievements the party has bagged which were not in their dreams 50 years ago. The whole Union Cabinet of BJP was in Kozhikode mixing with the crowd of old Jan Sangh cadres walking under the huge, larger than life pictures of Deendayalji, the author of “Integral Humanism” aka Ekatma Manav Darshan. Deendayalji was elected President of Jan Sangh in the national conference held at Kozhikode in December 1967. Unfortunately, he was assassinated, within two months, by an unknown assailant.
However, Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya’s ideals are to be seriously discussed again. His concept of “Anthoydaya” – the upliftment of the poorest, to be the central objective of the state – is the message BJP has given from Kozhikode. This emphasis on the policies to reach out to the downtrodden has been given with an eye on the elections in the states. Political observers have been commenting on these lines. Of course, BJP as a national party will have to face state assembly elections next year in UP, Goa, Gujarat, Punjab and Manipur. The outcome of the elections in these states certainly will have an impact in the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2019. The recent agitations against atrocities and oppression on Dalits in Gujarat were also organised by the opposition parties with an eye on the forthcoming polls. There is another aspect of these agitations which the English media is conveniently hiding.
Opposition parties are really worried about Dalit leaders. Uttar Pradesh deserts Mayavati. Recent polls show that BJP may emerge as the second largest party in UP. The attempts of the opposition parties to project BJP as an anti-Dalit force have not succeeded as they dreamed. Since the last few months, the opposition parties, especially the Lefts have been trying to divert political attention in this direction with Kanhaiya, JNU, etc. as a platform of convenience. Political pundits have forgotten that the tribals and Dalits have also participated in vast numbers in the so-called communal flare up in Gujarat. Now, they say that Dalits have been beaten and atrocities have been unleashed upon them under BJP rule!
The bankruptcy of the Opposition propaganda can be seen in the statement of CPM Kerala state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan against holding the BJP national conference in Kozhikode. He publicly stated that the conference is against the interests of the Dalits and minorities. On the contrary, the conference of BJP in Kozhikode, particularly the public speech of the PM in the mammoth public rally in Kozhikode Beach on the September 24 proved that BJP wanted to assure that Union Government would take specific measures for the upliftment of the minorities and Dalits. PM Modi condemned the political organisations for treating minority Muslims as their vote bank. He also warned against those cow-vigilante groups who disrupt the national objectives. Even though political observers expected some announcements of concrete and harsh measures with respect to Uri attack and our stand towards Pakistan, during the national conference, nothing of that happened. It was clear, BJP leadership deliberately avoided such statements, because MEA Sushma Swaraj was to speak in UN on behalf of the people of Bharat on September 26.
BJP leadership did not want to diverse the news expressed on these issues on the stand of the ruling party. Stalwarts of the party LK Advani and MM Joshi were seen sharing the stage together with PM Modi although they did not make any formal speech. So far as BJP cadres and thousands of Keralites who assembled in the beach are concerned, PM Modi was the cynosure of attention with Amit Shah in the background. After the public meeting, security personnel and police had a Herculean task to take the leaders to the venue where victims of Emergency and veterans of the old Jan Sangh were being honoured. A new edition of the souvenir published in connection with the Jan Sangh session held in Kozhikode 50 years ago was released in this programme. Shri P Narayanan, the then Kozhikode District organising secretary of Bharatiya Jan Sangh released it by presenting the first copy to me, the first journalist in Bharat having been arrested and prosecuted under the infamous Defence of India Rule (DIR) for publishing leaflets against the imposition of Emergency. I had the privilege of reporting the Jan Sangh conference of 1967 as a correspondent of Mathrubhumi Malayalam daily.
I still remember the economic policies of Jan Sangh adopted in Kozhikode urging the government for
encouraging private enterprise. Kozhikode was a very small town; Gulf boom had not started. The reception committee had presented tender coconuts to each volunteer who participated in the procession which culminated in the pandal where the resolutions were briefed to the media. The people who received tender coconuts found no way to drink its water. Immediately some young boys, mostly Muslims, of 10 to 15 years came out from small huts around with knives and offered their service to cut the bottom of the coconuts. They charged 5 paise per coconut as their wage! “Look, this is what we call private enterprise” commented one of the prominent leaders Vajpayeeji to me. I still remember it very much. BJP has promised upliftment of the downtrodden through “Anthoydaya,” the darshan of Pt. Deendayal.
(Writer is a veteran journalist, former deputy editor of Mathrubhumi Malayalam daily and author of several books; first journalist to be arrested and jailed under DIR during Emergency)