FOR HIM, POLITICS WAS WELFARE

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Upadhyaya’s observations that political intolerance seems to have been ingrained in the Congress, revealed the party’s true mindset. The Congress has even today been unable to forego this mindset, reflected through the behaviour of some of its leaders in Parliament

The problem with the Congress, argued Deendayal Upadhyaya, was that it could never reconcile itself to the loss of power. The actual attitude of political intolerance seems to have been ingrained in a party like the Congress. Decades following independence, this intolerance towards a negative electoral verdict calcified within the Congress and amongst its leaders.

Upadhyaya’s observations revealed the true mindset of the Congress, a mindset which it has even today been unable to shake off and which often spills out through the behaviour of some of its leaders in Parliament. When it lost elections in some of the provinces and was defeated in some ‘prestigious’ by-elections, noted Upadhyaya, the reactions of Congress leaders and “by the Prime Minister — have not been very happy…The manner in which they have behaved…clearly shows that they have lost their balance and the real and undemocratic attitude of their minds has revealed itself. This talk of banning the Jana Sangh under one plea or other shows what regard the Congress leaders have for democracy and fundamental rights…that such an idea should occur to them is itself a heresy in democracy. What is the difference between General Ayub banning all political parties and  Jawaharlal Nehru allowing parties only of his choice to exist…The Congress leaders can bow before the people’s verdict, if it is in their favour. But the moment people change their verdict, there are a host of invectives reserved for them and their chosen representatives and all measures are considered fair to compel people to bow to the Congress.”

An analysis made in 1961 continues to be relevant even today and is seen reflected in the parliamentary behaviour of Nehru’s great grandson. Invective hurling and wild abuse and allegations have come to be the institutional behaviour of the Congress, especially in the period when it is out of power.

In another remarkable piece on ‘Democracy and Political Parties’, Upadhyaya discussed imperative of parties being organic collectives that evolve and re-invent themselves with time, especially basing themselves on a deeper foundational philosophy, as S Radhakrishnan, once observed, according to Upadhyaya, “Disciplined parties and devoted and leadership were the sina qua non of a successful parliamentary democracy.”

The challenge, Upadhyaya argued was that, “today politics has ceased to be a means. It has become an end in itself. We have today people who are engaged in power politics rather than aim at political power with a view to achieving certain social and national objectives. It is because of this that the different political parties, instead of organising the people and creating order out of disorder, are only adding to the prevailing chaos”.

For Upadhyaya, a guiding and sustaining philosophy had to uphold political parties if they were to perpetuate themselves as true vehicles for national regeneration. Political parties divorced from a sustaining philosophy were nothing different from a ‘joint stock company.’

Let different political parties, he wrote, “Try to evolve a philosophy for themselves. Let them not be mere conglomerations of persons joined together for some selfish ends. It should be something different from a commercial undertaking or a joint stock company.”

But the founding philosophy ought to percolate through the rank and file and inspire and enthuse the party’s political foot-soldier and not simply be kept confined to or adorn the pages of the manifesto, “It is also necessary that the philosophy of the party is not kept confined to the pages of the party manifesto. Members should understand it and devote themselves to translating it into action.”

When it came to shaping the ideology and articulating it, Upadhyaya was perhaps second to none. When addressing an impressive gathering of young writers and thinkers in the national capital recently, BJP president Amit Shah talked of ideology less politics as akin to a body without life, he was reflecting that deeper commitment to ideology that Upadhyaya and before him Syama Prasad Mookerjee had engendered in the Jana Sangh and in its new crop of leaders who would build the party from scratch.

The BJP’s own massive countrywide prashikshan — training drive, in the last one year, under Shah, is a reiteration of that commitment to ideology and to the need of spreading its ideals and aims up to the roots in an overall political climate that is seeing most parties reel under a prolonged and irreversible spell of de-ideologisation.

But the party’s philosophy and ideology, pointed out Upadhyaya, had to be in consonance with the “ideals and spirit of democracy itself” and not go counter to it.

In many a country, he observed, “Democracy has suffered much at the hands of those who have used democracy only to subvert it. The communists have an ideology and claim to follow democratic means — only to ultimately put an end to democracy…any ideology which is rigid and does not believe in human dignity and freedom will not suit a democratic set-up. Such parties should either adapt their ideologies to democratic conditions, or stop paying lip service to democracy.”

It would not have surprised Upadhyaya to see communist parties in India continue with their habit of paying lip service to democracy, to the Constitution and Parliament and yet standing by and supporting separatism and laud those who glorify democracy-hating terrorists and call for India’s disintegration.

Upadhyaya’s caution about the Indian communist parties who held ‘extra-territorial loyalties’ which become “all the more dangerous to the nation” is telling, such parties, he said, could not be “loved and supported” they had to be instead, “exposed and liquidated.”

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