Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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Angel In Human Form

-K.R. Malkani

PANDIT Deendayal Upadhyaya did not fit into the popular image of leadership. Most of the leaders look like heroes, talk like oracles and pose as kind of super- men. Deendayalji was nothing of the kind. He looked and sounded so ordinary. But he was so very extra- ordinary in his simple living, his clear thinking, his correct judgement of men and matters, and above all in the utter purity of his character. He was, verily, a Brahma Sanyasi who lived in the thick of the world but was altogether above it. While most leaders fall in your estimate as you come to know them, Panditji belonged to that rare species who rise in your esteem the. more you know them.

I must say I was not particularly impressed when I first saw him during the period of the ban on RSS way back in 1948. But I found that the bright young ' Swayamsevaks of UP already treated him with reverence.
They were right. For years I called him 'Deendayal'. But as I saw more . and more of him, I, too, unconsciously, switched over to "Panditji'', It was a quiet tribute to the quality of the man and his leadership.

More than ten years back we pressed him to write a weekly diary for the Organiser He agreed-but he could not always make it in the midst of his busy schedule. A few years later he told Jagdishji that every time he came to Delhi he was afraid of being reminded by ORGANISER that he had missed this week and that. After that 1 stopped asking him about the diary. He wrote as and when he had the time. Perhaps if I had kept up my nagging, the country would have had more of his thoughts today to profit by.

The late Prof. M.A. Venkatarao of Bangalore once suggested to him that Jana Sangh should have an organ of its own. Panditji reported: “Why should we have one of our own when ORGANISER can serve the purpose?” When I heard of this I felt the burden of responsibility grow greater on me. I once asked him whether I should go soft on this or that. And Panditji replied: “Why should you ? Hit it hard, hit it well. As an opposition paper you cannot afford to go soft on the Establishment.”

A visitor once remarked that Jana Sangh was all right, but it was a little reactionary. Panditji smiled and said : "I don't understand those stock phrases of progressive and reactionary. But 1 do know this that our speeches are more critical of America than of Russia."

When John Matthai submitted his three-volume report on tax reform, Panditji took from us all the tomes to read. Perhaps he would have liked nothing better than to read, read, read. By temper he was a research scholar.

Jana Sangh had just won an impressive number of seats (27 out of 80) in the Delhi Municipal Corporation and Congress had failed to secure a majority. A well-to- do independent cooperator came and urged that Jana Sangh run about, sign up uncommitted members and try for a majority. Panditji always played it cool. He said, “We don't even have a car to run about. Only those who have one (referring to the independent corporator) can do so." And with that he sent the ball back into the independent's court.

One day Panditji, Bala Saheb Deoras (General Secretary of the RSS) and others were taking tea. As he saw the tea things arrive, he told the host, "But there is nothing in all this for Bala Saheb.'' (Ba1a Saheb occasionally takes non-vegetarian food because of his low blood pressure). So solicitous was Panditji about others welfare, though he himself was a strict vegetarian. He did not so much as take onion. But he would never fuss about it. He just took out onion pieces standing out in a dish and go ahead with the rest.

When the cow protection movement commenced more than ten years ago, he vowed never to use foot- wear made out of the hide of slaughtered cattle. He made it a point to buy chappals and shoes made out of the hide of cattle dying naturally. If he couldn't get one, he just went in for canvas shoes.

When the Arab-Israeli war broke out and almost everybody became pro-Israeli, Panditji had a word of caution : "We should not become blindly pro-Israel just because the Congress is blindly pro-Arab. We should not view the world as if it were peopled by angels and devils. We must judge issues on merit.”

When ORGANISER completed twenty years of publication, we wanted to hold a small reception and have a Chief Guest. I asked Panditji if he had any name to suggest. Without a moment's hesitation he said : "Why don't you call Dr. Zakir Husain ?'' I smiled. Only two months earlier we had canvassed against his candidature for Presidency. But Panditji persisted : "Yes, why not?" It is a different matter that eventually we decided not to have any Chief Guest.

When the three non-Congress Governments of Haryana, West Bengal and Punjab were toppled in less than three days, we published a cartoon depicting Chavan butchering the democratic bull. Many thought it was over-stating the case. Panditji's reaction was, "The sight of cow slaughter is shocking even in a cartoon. And besides the political situation is so fluid. You don't know with whom you may have to sit together.''

In the twenty years I knew him I did not once see him raise his voice in anger. The strongest word he used for the really bad men of Indian politics was ’bada badmash hai’ (he is a big rascal) and that too not in anger but in wonder that men should be so roguish.

Such was Panditji an angel in human form. That he should have left us in the prime of his life will be our life's regret. We can only console ourselves with the thought that it was fortunate enough to have him for as long-or as short-as we had him, and that we will always have his example to go by.

Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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