Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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A towering intellectual who inspires

I came in direct contact with Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya because of his annual visit for the function held every year in Muzaffarpur. At that time, in 1965, I was engaged in research for my Ph.D. and was also shouldering the responsibility of Bharatiya Jana Sangh President of Muzaffarpur district.

In December 1966, a working committee meeting of Bihar Jana Sangh was held in Ulav (Begusarai) under the supervision of BJS leader Late Chandrachud Dev. In that meeting Panditji gave an impressive analysis of the political situation in Bihar. During lunch I was seated next to him and in the course of our conversation I told him about my research on Gandhiji’s views on economics.

I remarked to Deendayalji that after going through his writings and speeches on economic matters, I found that his views were similar to those of Gandhiji. I told him that on the issue of Swadeshi, decentralised economy and running professional institutions by instilling a feeling of trusteeship in each individual; his thoughts echoed the sentiments expressed by Mahatma Gandhi. I also said that without a will to serve, the feeling of trusteeship had no meaning.

Deendayalji agreed with me and added that the view of economic progress would remain clouded without the objective of serving the country and providing for welfare of the people. He said that only that person who had in-depth knowledge of India’s villages; civilisation and culture would find resonance of his views in others.

Bihar Assembly elections were announced in 1967. Shortly before that, Deendayalji had stayed in Muzaffarpur. An election committee meeting of Jana Sangh at the Centre had been held in Delhi a few days before nomination for elections. In my capacity as the district president I had already forwarded the name of a senior leader for candidature. However, due to Panditji’s intervention, it was decided to make me the party’s candidate from Muzaffarpur. Even though I was not mentally prepared to contest this election, yet I duly performed my duty.

During the campaign, a public meeting was organised at the Town Hall. Pandit Deendayalji was scheduled to address this meeting but his arrival from Hajipur got delayed. On arriving, he ordered the car to be stopped at some distance away and listened to my speech for nearly 5 minutes. This was his way of evaluating all party workers.

Deendayalji did never compromise with discipline. He had the same rules that applied to a karyakarta and senior leaders. This is amply illustrated by the example of Shri Suresh Dutt, a dedicated karyakarta who was an intellectual in Bihar Jana Sangh. During a programme in Delhi, Shri Dutt repeatedly ignored requests to maintain discipline. Even after the chairman of the meeting implored him to take his seat, Shri Dutt disobeyed him. This did not go unnoticed by Deendayalji and it upset him a lot. As a result, the announcement to suspend Shri Dutt was made in that very meeting.

On the fateful day of February 11, 1968, a meeting of Bihar State office-bearers was organised at the State Jana Sangh office. We were expecting Deendayalji to grace this meeting. I had already arrived in Muzaffarpur a day earlier and was staying in the same room as Shri Ashwani Kumar.

Early in the morning, Ashwaniji left for the railway station to receive Panditji who was due to arrive in the train coming from Lucknow. However, there was no sign of Deendayalji and Ashwaniji had to return to the office alone. All of us were surprised and worried why Panditji did not come.

When our meeting was about to start, we received the shocking news that a man’s body had been found in Mughal Sarai Railway yard and that the man resembled Pandit Deendayalji. Immediately Shri Ashwani Kumar and Shri Kailashpati Mishra rushed to Mughal Sarai.

Soon the terrible news was confirmed that the deceased was indeed our very own Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. With a heavy heart I had to prepare a resolution expressing grief on behalf of Bihar Jana Sangh. Late Shri Raveesh Sharma of Munger, former Bihar Finance Minister, presided over this condolence meeting as all of us, stunned and rendered speechless by this unexpected blow, anxiously waited for further news from Mughal Sarai.

Panditji was an extraordinary person who synthesised the two qualities of a humble gentleness in his character with an iron discipline. His inspiring simplicity, disarming smile and astounding intellectual prowess made him a natural leader whose humility, integrity and wisdom will always guide us as we strive to follow the path shown by him for building the ideal Bharatvarsha of his dreams.
Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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