Dr V K John was the first MLC and deputy leader of the opposition in the 1953 Legislative council in Madras Rajdhani.
The first state president of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), Dr V K John’s 128th birth anniversary was celebrated in BJP headquarters in Chennai on July 20. How many of us know that a Christian led the BJS, the forerunner to the BJP, in Madras Rajdhani? But the BJP is still being accused of being anti-minority.
Dr V K John was the first MLC and deputy leader of the opposition in 1953. His 128th birth anniversary was celebrated on July 20. Tamil Nadu BJP state President, Annamalai and other functionaries rich paid floral tributes to his photo.
On this occasion, the five-time legislator and the BJP National Executive member, Dr H. V. Hande, tweeted, ‘’You did the right thing. Dr.V.K.John MLC a pioneer Jan Sangite used to reside 6 houses away from my residence at Nungambakkam High Road. He was my predecessor in the Madras Legislative Council. Amarar Atalji had visited his house a couple of times.” To this Annamalai retweeted “Sir. As you know, our party honours all great leaders who had contributed & grown of the party. It was a privilege to hear & read about our first Tamil Nadu Jan Sangh leader Shri. Dr V K John MLC, who was a fierce nationalist!.
It is pertinent to note what Former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP chief L K Advani had said in a function in Chennai held on November 22, 2009. Debunking claims that BJP was against minorities, Advani said, "the BJP's predecessor was the Bharatiya Jana Sangh which was formed by Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951. Dr Mookerjee was an eminent freedom fighter who also served as India's first industries minister in Pandit Nehru's Cabinet. In the course of building the party in different parts of the country in the early fifties, he (Mookerjee) appointed Barrister V K John as the chief of the Jana Sangh in Madras province. The same propaganda was also heard at the time. Barrister John was asked: How can you, a Christian, accept to be an office-bearer of a communal party? His answer was forthright: I know Dr S P Mookerjee very well. He cannot be the president of a communal party." Advani termed them motivated propaganda by saying, "It is important enough occasion for me to respond to the consistent propaganda that my party, BJP, is anti-minorities and anti-Christian." Jan Sangh was founded in Tamil Nadu on October 3, 1958.
“In a tribute, the party organ Ore Nadu carried an article about VK John. As a barrister, John used to charge 1,750 per hour in those days. He was the most sought lawyer at that time. The multi-millionaire Mookerjee studied law in London. John was his classmate in 1927. Both were close friends. This relationship continued until Mookerjee’s mysterious death. Ore Nadu editor Nambi Narayanan, after paying floral tribute to John at the function, said, “John was a native of Kerala and was Syrian Christian. He was the first president of Jan Sangh in Tamil Nadu. Pandit Dheendayal and Mookerjee took part in the event. The people who heard John’s speech described it as a roar of a lion. John spoke categorically, though I am born Christian but practically a Hindu. He said (John), “I am proud to say this that my forefathers were Hindus before converting to Christianity. I will respect the national tradition and honour. I wholeheartedly support the ban on the cow slaughter bill. I will not partake in lunch or dinner with people who eat the meat of cows. Congress has betrayed the Bharat. Nehru failed to give important Hindu national parties. BJS will treat all alike and will not show any partiality. Will try to unite north and south without any discrimination, giving no room for caste, creed and colour. That is why I am in the party.” When I (Nambi Narayanan) met B Govindarajan, the first organizing secretary of BJS, B Govindarajan (now 91), the founder of Vivekananda Educational Foundation, recalled his days with John. He was a contemporary of Rajaji. Rajaji charged Rs.1,250 per hour in 1957. But John charged more than Rajaji. He was a member of the Swatantra Party. He was elected to the upper house from the Graduate constituency.”
While Mookerjee was the leader of Opposition in Parliament, John was the dy. Leader of Opposition in Legislative council in Madras Rajdhani. One hundred people from Tamil Nadu, led by John, went to Goa to take part in the freedom struggle. Before setting foot in Goa, each member has to take a vow in blood by piercing a nail in their hands. Govindarajan wept when we spoke to him. He was highly emotional in recalling the past. We had to cut short out video shoot.”
The excerpts of Dr VK John’s speeches on 3 and 4th October 1958,
“Congress party has made our lives as hell. Jan Sangh is the only party that can save us from this. This is my 4thopinion. Congress and other parties brand us as non-secular. This is a white lie. I have been in Jan Sangh for many years. Jan Sangh has been debunking such lies from the social and political arena. These false propagandas are being made out of enmity and jealousy. I can say this with my experience after analyzing every minute detail. Our doors open for a casteless, religionless party.
Veterans like Rajaji are available to take the mantle, but I agreed to lead the party in Tamil Nadu. Miles apart in BJS and narrow-mindedness. These are poles apart. We strive hard to bring Brahmins, non- Brahmins, north, and south differences. Some parties are spreading this venom in the minds of the people. I appeal to all to cooperate with us to achieve this goal. I am a Hindu. BJS is a national movement.
In my library, I have a collection of Bible and Ramayan, Mahabharata, Upanishads, and other Hindu scriptures. I find most of the things in the bible are in our Hindu scriptures as well. I can’t give my forefathers’ nationality and literature. Fully understanding the importance of nationality, one will realize why we people are in Jansangh. I fully support the ban on Cow Slaughter. I never eat with people who take cow meat. Due to economic reasons, the bill was not passed. But we should support the ban on cow slaughter. Akand Bharat is my dream. I have been attracted to Jansangh by various ideologies and narratives. Akand Bharat is spread from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Sindh to Assam. I heard this only in Jan Sangh circles. All are one caste ideology is prevalent only in Jan Sangh. This was against the secessionists' mindset. This is the ideal one. What else do I need? I believe in Akhanda Bharat. The nation should be an undivided, indivisible one.
I would say on the day of Independence, Nehru and others have no right to allow people to claim they are Pakistanis. Partition took place, which is not wise and unjustifiable. We should achieve Akhanda Bharat at any cost. The views of Jan Sangh and mine are similar. That is what I was attracted to Jansangh naturally.