The art of immortalising: RSS icon Deendayal Upadhyaya holds sway in BJP states
State governments are working hard to immortalise Jana Sangh’s most important leader, Deendayal Upadhyaya, on his centenary.Updated: Aug 10, 2017 07:34 IST
India is celebrating the birth centenary of Deendayal Upadhyaya and the former leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) predecessor — has grown omnipresent in a short time.
Towns, railway stations, ports, projects and schemes have either already been renamed or are in the process of being named after Upadhyaya, the Jana Sangh’s most important leader until his death under mysterious circumstances in 1968. He was found dead at Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh while travelling in a train.
The new BJP-led government of Uttar Pradesh has already changed the name of Mughalsarai railway station to Deendayal Upadhyaya station.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested that the Gujarat port of Kandla also be renamed after the late leader.
State governments, particularly those run by the BJP, are working overtime to immortalise Upadhyaya. HT looks at how several BJP-ruled states are commemorating his centenary.
Crash courses on Upadhyaya are being offered in schools, colleges and even jails of the state, with the Yogi Adityanath government ordering all of them to buy complete volumes on the life of the saffron ideologue.
State ministers are attending seminars on Udpadhyaya while a 70-page booklet on him is being distributed to students expected to participate in a quiz in August. Schools have been also told to hold essay competitions on Upadhyaya while universities are organising inter-state sports meets after him.
“Whether it is the Centre or the state, the aim of all BJP governments is to reach out to the last man with the principles of Deendayalji,” said UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh.
A statue of the Jana Sangh leader has already been unveiled at the Raj Bhavan. Other plans include installation of a 51-feet statue at the Dabchick tourist complex at Hodal and setting up of a park named after Upadhyaya in Faridabad. The Kurukshetra University will also undertake research on the life and philosophy of the late leader while the state government plans to set up Pandit Upadhyay Yuva Vikas Kendras.
The government headed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched the subsidised Deendayal kitchen scheme in April to provide cooked meal at ₹5 for the poor. The state has already made it mandatory for all government advertisements to carry the photograph of Upadhyaya.
While students across schools in the state are being imparted lessons on the Jana Sangh leader, the Makhanlal Chaturvedi National Institute of Journalism and Mass Communication has replaced studies on India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru with that on Upadhyaya. State school education minister Deepak Joshi said Upadhyaya’s ideology was more relevant in modern times.
The late leader’s photographs currently adorn the walls, along with that of the country’s president and PM, at the offices of all ministers. But the biggest tribute planned for him is renaming the town of Satpuli in Pauri as Deendayal Upadhyaya Nagar.
Several government schemes have been renamed after him, including Deendayal Upadhyaya Rozgar Yojana and Deendayal Upadhyaya Matri Pitra Teerthantan Yojana.
“Deendayalji was a great nationalist and deserves due honour,” said state tourism minister Satpal Maharaj. Upadhyaya’s picture is also being used on government letterheads.
The BJP last week asked elected representatives in the state to use a logo featuring a photograph of Upadhyaya on all letterheads.
“We were shown a sample of the logo with photos of Upadhyaya and other BJP leaders. We have been directed to print the logo on letterheads within two or three days,” Shiv Singh Bhont, Udaipur mayor, said. Opposition parties have decried the move, with the Congress accusing the BJP government of attempting to impose ‘Hindutva’ ideology.
State education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said five model colleges — all named Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Adarsh Mahavidyalaya — will start functioning in the state from September. The government also has plans to set up similar colleges exclusively for girls in minority-dominated areas.
But organisations such as the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) are critical of the move. “...Upadhyaya has no relevance in Assam. BJP could have named the colleges after state icons such as Lakshminath Bezbaroa or Gopinath Bordoloi,” said AASU president Dipankar Nath.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently in Kutch’s Kandla, where he suggested that the port be renamed after Upadhyaya.
“We are in the year of birth century of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. I would like to suggest to Nitin Gadkariji to rename this port as the Deen Dayal Upadhayaya Kandla port,” the Prime Minister said. Officials said the PM’s wish will be translated into reality very soon.
(With inputs from Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Jaipur and Dehradun)