Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

You are here : Home >> About Pandit ji >> Pioneer of Democracy


Childhood Brilliant Student Days Courageous, Service-Oriented and Honest Literally a Nomad RSS Contacts during Student Days As a Journalist Pioneer of Democracy His Literary Jansangh President End of an Era

Upadhyaya's views on honouring public opinion are similar to what political thinkers believed in the west, "We educate our masters'' In fact, there was a movement started on these lines. The highlights of his viewpoint about democracy's success are:
1 . Tolerance and discipline',
2. Selflessness; and
3. Respect for the law of the land.

Tolerance and Discipline :

"The mainstream of democracy has been tolerance. In its absence, elections, legislature, etc., are lifeless. .. Tolerance is the basis of Indian culture. It gives us strength to find out what the public at large desires.'' Discipline is essential for tolerance. Upadhyaya says, "Discipline involves working under the limits laid down. Starving oneself is not discipline, but it is eating according to the body's requirements, Keeping mum or not protesting against tyranny or not rendering good advice to anyone is not discipline. A disciplined person stands between a vocal person and a dumb person; he speaks as and when necessary.''

"Indiscipline and irresponsibility go together. A democracy can be successful only when a citizen understands his responsibilities and discharges them to the best of his abilities. The more a society understands that it is its responsibility to run the government, the more disciplined it would become. A political party that feels that sooner or later it may be called upon to shoulder the responsibility of governance, the more responsible it will become in making promises and in its general behaviour. Even then, it always lies with the public to run the administration" It is, therefore, imperative that the people must be responsible and disciplined in order to make democracy a success more than its formal manifestations.


The lust for power provokes people and their leaders to ignore popular will. The environment of society should, therefore, be such that a citizen is involved in a democracy more out of selflessness than out of lust for power. To play the electoral game in the spirit of sportsmanship develops this selflessness, but on the other hand, lust for power gives rise to mutual enmity and bitterness. Giving the example of Ram, Upadhyaya explains his viewpoint thus:

"In a democracy, a high degree of selflessness is required in governance. Like Lord Ram, the rulers must always be prepared to rule at the people's behest and give it all up when required without any ill-feeling. They must always strive for victory like a sportsman. lf a ruler cannot accept defeat and congratulate his competitor on the latter's victory, he is not a democrat. It was this feeling that led Churchill to hand over power to Attlee who, in turn, transferred it to Eden."
This selflessness is generated because of a person's inherent qualities. The mere trappings of democracy do not make a person accept the general public opinion. He requires good company, self-meditation and self-discipline in order to conquer the lust of power.

Respect for the Law of the Land:

The rule of the law is a political organization, but respect for the law of the land is what an ethical society requires. A person who respects the law of the land can only implement it. Where people do not believe in the rule of the law, they mistrust it and ignore it. This leads to immorality and anarchy in society. It has only been in India that we have been able to make the people follow moral law and values without bringing about the fear of legal punishment. It is essential in a healthy democracy that we should observe the law of the land, not out of any fear of Punishment, but of our own sense of social responsibility. Upadhyaya urged the political parties to educate the public opinion on these lines and themselves act accordingly.|

"In order to generate respect for the law in the public, it is necessary that the political parties which aspire to uphold the rule of the law, should themselves set an example in this regard. The feeling of self-rule and the capability is the essence of democracy. If the political parties cannot govern themselves how can they aspire to generate a feeling of self-rule in society?" A democratic mentality is required for respecting the law of the land; it is also necessary that the lawmakers, scholars, people's representatives and Journalists should also educate the public about the various provisions of the law. In order to express their views on respect for the law of the land, people must also be educated to put forth their views that are against the accepted views. Upadhyaya was not merely a scholar or philosopher, but also a known political worker. He believed that elections were not merely an instrument for political struggle, they were also instruments of social interaction. They must be used in this direction. He has expressed his views on the electoral process that demonstrate his political and statesmanlike views on what a Good Candidate, Good Party and Good Voter should be.

Good Candidate: According to Upadhyaya, "...A suitable candidate is one who, along with giving expression to the policies of his party, also feels the pulse of his electorate. As a person, he must be faithful to his electoral; as member of a political party he should be dedicated to expressing the viewpoint and policies of the party he represents.''
Devotion to the electorate as well as the party is the touchstone of a good candidate. But expressing his concern over the selection of candidates by the various political parties who are concerned more about winning the election than about the right candidate, he said:

"Unfortunately, there is not a single political party in India that is worried about this. The only thing that matters to them is that their candidate must somehow win... They only grant a ticket to the candidate who has the maximum chances of winning." He warns the voters: "We must remember that an ineligible candidate is not worthy of our vote even if he belongs to a good political party... It is possible that while granting the ticket to such a person, a political party may have been guided by immediate gains or it may even have made a grave mistake. It is, therefore, the duty of a responsible voter to rectify this mistake by his awareness.''

Good Party :

Political parties play a decisive role in a democratic set-up. The democratic nature of any society can be judged by the character of its political parties. According to Upadhyaya, a good political party is "the one which is not a conglomerate of people lusting for power-but the one which has its own distinctive character apart from aspiring for political power. Such a party is dedicated to its own ideals and their implementation instead of merely contesting elections or coming to power. From the top leadership to the grassroots level, everyone associated with such a party is committed to its ideals. Commitment and dedication, we must remember, lead to discipline and self-sacrifice... If discipline is imposed from above, it betrays the innter weakness of that political party."

Deendayal points out regretfully that most political parties in India are parties just in name. Their inner weakness leads them to dependence on unwanted and undesirable anti-social elements. Such compulsions are: (1) former rulers; (ii) casteism; and (iii) industrialists.

Former Rulers:

Most political parties in India haven't been able to strike strong roots among the masses…. keeping aside their political activities, the parties have to become election-savvy. That is why many of them have tried to drag in former rulers, nawabs and Jagirdars to their fold….We must concede that these former constituents of society must be active in the country's politics, but granting them tickets to fight elections should not be solely dependent on their dynasties but their abilities.''


"Caste and community are the other considerations which affect the selection of candidates. . .Every citizen in India belongs to one caste or community or another. In blaming others for casteism and parochialism while ourselves submitting to their dictates indirectly encourages such an attitude... If things come to such a pass that a person of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia's stature has to withdraw from contest because the number of voters is that constituency do not belong to the majority community, the situation is indeed grave. The solution to this problem is to strengthen the organization of political parties so that they do not appeal to the electorate on the basis of their caste or community.

Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
Content copyright © Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation
Designed & Developed by Dreamlabz Technologies
home page email us