Whenever I happen to visit Avadh region of Uttar Pradesh particularly Balrampur, Shravasti and Lucknow districts, many people come narrating some or the other incident, stories or inspiring anecdotes from the life of adorable Atal ji, who represented this area in Lok Sabha in very formative years of his political life . Atal ji was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time from newly carved Balrampur constituency in our second general election in 1957. Prior to that in first Lok Sabha election held in the year 1952, it was the part of Gonda North seat. This area had substantial Muslim population, therefore Congress party used to field Muslim candidates who was comfortably elected every time. There was an undercurrent and unease within local Hindu population, but they were unable to do much in absence of a strong candidate who could take on Congress establishment.
Bhartiya Jan Sangh established in October 1951 in Delhi was a fledgling political party which had made its mark on the national firmament on grounds of its strong nationalist credentials and espousal of Kashmir cause. In fact, in the early years of its inception 1953, it had to sacrifice it’s tallest leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee ji in Kashmir. His martyrdom had ignited nationalist sentiments all over Bharat. The country was looking towards BJS for leadership and direction. Country had embarked on a path of Fabian socialism under Nehru’s leadership and was looking for a nationalist and grounded alternative.
In these circumstances second general elections were announced in the year 1957. By merging some area of Bahraich district and Gonda North, new Lok Sabha constituency of Balrampur was formed. Due to Balrampur being a princely state and the good work done by Ramrajya Parishad of Karpatri ji Maharaj in first general election held in the year 1952, local BJS unit was sure to win this seat if they placed a good candidate. Atal ji at that time was a young man of 32, he had already made his mark as a close associate of Shyama Prasad ji, editor of Panchjanya and Swadesh and as an orator who had already closely contested a tough by-election in Lucknow in 1955. He became the first choice of local unit led by late Shri Pratap Narayan Tiwari.
In such circumstances Atal ji was made to contest from newly carved constituency. He, along with his dedicated team, went from village to village for campaign. He not only had to fight a resource crunch but a mighty establishment of Congress. But he had massive support from the local Hindu population who used to offer everything at their disposal. One such inspiring incident was brought to our notice while campaigning for just concluded assembly elections of March 2022 by family of late Shri Ramjas Pandey ji of village Harriya Chandershi of block Pachpedva Balrampur. While campaigning in this village, Atal ji noticed that Mr. Pandey’s family had a big Congress flag fluttering atop his house and village was of mixed religious population. Local Hindus were tormented by fellow Muslims regularly and they felt slighted and dishonoured. Among the prominent local families who traditionally supported the Congress was Mr. Pandey. Atal ji sent a message through his emissaries to Mr. Pandey that he wants to visit his home for lunch along with a handful of his supporters. Would he like to host him?
Mr. Pandey was more than happy to welcome Atal ji and other Swayamsevaks . Atal ji reached in time to Mr. Pandey ‘ s home for lunch . In introduction itself, he impressed the whole family by his down to earth nature , his humour, wit and quick repartees. Mr. Pandey’ s family was headed by his mother. It was summer time and the weather in this part of the country is generally very humid and hot . Atal ji removed his clothes from his upper body before lunch as was the custom in Brahmin households and sat on the ground for lunch. He enjoyed the simple home cooked food, praised it lavishly and sought blessings of mother for the success of BJS in impending Lok Sabha elections . Now it was the turn of Mr. Pandey to see him off and offer some gift in the form of Dakshina to a Brahmin. Atal ji initially denied to accept anything but on his persistent request he relented. He said I will not take any money, neither put you in a Dharm Sankat (dilemma) by asking your vote, but I will ask for something, only if you promise to commit to fulfill it. Mr. Pandey readily agreed and then Atal ji asked for blessings of his mother and her vote and support for his candidature. Mata ji was already too impressed by his humble behavior and she immediately obliged. This way this citadel was broken. Since then the Congress flag was removed Pandey ji’s family turned into a strong RSS/ BJS/BJP supporter .