Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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Your Vote-2

-Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya
[Organiser, 11 December, 1961]
Candidate, Party and Ideology All Count

Now that all the double member constituencies have been bifurcated, you have only one vote each for the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha. You have to select one out of the so many in the field. It is a single act, through which you cannot satisfy competing claims and conflicting preferences. The ultimate decision depends on a careful and correct assessment of a number of factors. The candidate, the party, and its ideology–all have to be considered. A bad candidate cannot claim a premium just because the party he belongs to is good. An evil is an evil and, like the proverbial ill wind, cannot blow good to any one any where. The party High Command in giving a ticket to such a man might have acted on a partisan basis or, with the best of intention; it might have committed an error of judgment. It is the duty of a responsible electorate to rectify such a mistake.

There was a time when people would vote for a lamp-post just because it bore the Congress symbol. In the first general elections such stalwarts as Acharya Narendra Deva and Acharya Kripalani were defeated by Congress nominees who bore no comparison with them. The lamp-post is is over. But there is the likelihood of the pendulum swinging to the other extreme. A gentleman recently remarked that he would prefer to vote for milestone but not for a Congress candidate. Whether you choose the ‘lamp-post’ because of your faith in the Congress, or the ‘Milestone’ because of your intense disgust with the Congress, you are equally wrong. It denotes a diseased and perverse state of mind.

The Congress President is reported to have said not long back that the worst in the Congress was better than the best in the opposition. It reminded me of Maulana Shaukat Ali who said that the lowest amongst the Muslims was, to him, better than even Mahatma Gandhi. Nobody can endorse these sentiments. The voter who votes out of reaction belongs to the same category. He allows his judgment to be clouded by morbid reaction.

Do not choose either the ‘milestone’ or the ‘lamp-post’. They cannot represent you. If they are in the House it will be a reflection on your capacity to discern and decide. So elect your own representative.

You want a good man. But a good man in a bad party will not prove effective. The most valiant will not succeed with a broken or blunt weapon. The example of Rajarshi Purushottam Dass Tandan is enough to illustrate my point.

But which is a good party? Evidently the one that is not simply a collection of individuals but is a body corporate with a distinctive purposeful existence different from its desire to capture power. Political power should be a means rather than an end to the members of such a party. There should be devotion to a cause in the rank and file of the party. Devotion leads to dedication and discipline. Discipline does not mean simply outward conformity to certain do’s and don’ts. The more you impose discipline from above the less is the internal strength of a party. Discipline is to a party what Dharma is to a society.

If there is a devotion and discipline, there will not be any groups and factions in the party. When party interests are subordinated to self-interest, factionalism begins. It is a social manifestation of an egoistic and perverse mind. A faction-ridden party becomes ineffective and loses all capacity for doing good.

The third quality of a good party is that is should be wedded to certain ideals and all its policies should be framed with a view to realising these ideals. It is true that the very practical act of administration cannot be fitted into a set of formulae framed on a theoretical analysis of situation. But expediency and opportunism should not pass for realism. Realism is a virtue of the idealist, the principled man, the missionary; it is not a characteristic of the man with an easy conscience, the opportunist and the apostate. Political parties and leaders by their behaviour determine the values of political life. They set the norms. Naturally their policies should in no case violate these norms of public behaviour. Democracy is not simply elections. It requires a well organised people, well built parties and well established conventions of political behaviour.

A good party with a set of good candidates must also have a good, realistic programme. It is after all the programme that will require to be implemented. Good people with a bad programme or an impracticable programme will not help alleviate the sufferings of the people. On the contrary they will create more difficulties.
These three things have to be considered in an integrated manner. It may be difficult to bet an ideal in every respect. But an optimum combination of the three can be found out. Well intentioned people, guided by altruistic motives, and disciplined, can to a great extent make up the deficiency of a programme if it is not based on principles that are wholly unacceptable. If the party is moving in the wrong direction, no amount of goodness and efficiency will improve matters. The direction having been decided, the pace can be speeded up only by correct and efficient handling of matters.

So for as candidates are concerned it is not possible to discuss individual cases. The voter knows them better. Coming to parties, it is true that most of the political parties in India do not conform to the definition of a party. The Congress is the biggest and the largest party, but its members have no sense of discipline, no urge willingly to submit. In an artificial manner, however, it has so far maintained enough discipline. But there are signs that this forced discipline will no longer remain effective.

It is needless to refer to groupies in the Congress. The two bullocks invariably symbolism the two groups at every level. That even at the centre, decision with regard to the deputy leader of the party could not be taken betokens a serious malady.

There are parties which have been formed by ex-Congressmen and which depend mainly on recruitment from Congress ranks. They constitute the bulk of disgruntled and dissatisfied elements. For them questions of discipline do not arise.

The Communist party is definitely a party. But for its ideology, it would have been quite ineffective one. With its extra-territorial character, however, a party so well organised becomes all the more dangerous to the nation. It can not be loved and supported. It has to be exposed and liquidated.

As for Jana Sangh, all that I would like to say is that we have been trying to evolve into a well-knit, disciplined and devoted party. At times we have been criticized for following this course. This has not been liked by those who wanted to develop the Jana Sangh into some sort of haphazard organisation on the PSP pattern. But Jana Sangh has been firm and whatever apparent losses it might have incurred in the short run on this account, on the whole it has maintained the health of the organisation and endeared itself all the more to the people. Firmness and righteousness pay more dividends than trying to rope in all shorts of opportunist elements.
Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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