The ruling BJP will start a year-long programme from next month to take party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay to every district of the country in an attempt to give its identity politics a new push.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to formally launch the programme from Calicut on September 25, Upadhyay’s birth anniversary. More than 2,500 Bharatiya Janata Party leaders will gather for a conclave in the beach city, where Upadhyay was elected the Jan Sangh president.
Plans are afoot to create infrastructure like busts, community halls and libraries in his name in every nook and corner of the country to help people relate to him.
A committee comprising PM Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and culture minister MaheshSharma has been set up to supervise the preparations. Proposals have been invited from the states and the committee will scrutinise and approve them. Two hundred such proposals are already on the table.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS-affiliated Deendayal Research Institute will be the knowledge partner for this initiative.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced in the annual budget that Rs 100 crore will be set aside for Upadhyay’s birth centenary year celebration. “Eighty percent of the money will be spent on creating infrastructure,” culture minister Mahesh Sharma told Hindustan Times.
The BJP considers Upadhyay’s treatise on Integral Humanism as one of the most powerful influences on its ideological moorings with the RSS. He died under mysterious circumstances during a train journey in 1968 and his body was recovered near Mughalsarai railway station.
The celebration is part of a concerted effort by the Modi government to popularise icons outside Nehru-Gandhi family, particularly those from the saffron stable.
Certain schemes named after Indira and Rajiv Gandhi - both former prime ministers - have been rechristened and Modi government also decided to issue commemorative stamps on other icons who it thought did not get due recognition under the Congress-led government.
The saffron party is often accused of trying to appropriate the legacy of leaders such as Sardar Vallabhbahi Patel and BR Ambedkar.