My Simple Hero


ACCORDING to a saying in English -No man is a hero to his valet”. This means no man is great to those who are closest to him, for they have the opportunity to observe him at very close quarters and has to know his short-comings. Rather, it happens many times that when you go very close to a great man he seems small. But what was the experience of those of us who came into contact with Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya ? It was my great good fortune that after entering the political field I could all the time receive his guidance so long as he was alive. And the more I think of him the more I feel his greatness.

Unassuming Greatness

In his appearance Deendayalji was so simple that people could hardly recognise him as a great man. After he became General Secretary of the Jana Sangh his pictures sometimes appeared in the press. Still not many people knew him, and sometimes when people who had not met him went to receive him at the railway station they would look everywhere and not find him. Then a simple, dhoti-clad man would come to them and say, “If you are looking for Deendayal, I am he.” People would look at him and be amazed.

When I read his articles on ‘Chiti’ I thought here was a rare, fundamental thinker. But when I met him I could hardly believe that this simple, unassuming person was that noble philosopher.

On knowing him closely, however, I could realise that he was indeed an uncommon personality. And what I saw of him confirmed me in my belief that he was truly a ‘Mahe Manav’. There was no aspect of life in which one could find fault with him.
Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya has provided the standard for the conduct of social workers. He has shown what level the thoughts as well as actions of a dedicated social worker should have. It is our common experience that not only in social life but even in personal life a man thinks first of all of himself. I had read somewhere that according to a survey made by the New York telephone exchange, the word that people use most in their conversation on the phone is “I”. It is the natural tendency of people to put themselves at the centre of the universe. This egocentric tendency is magnified many times in social life. But in Deendayalji’s life this self-centredness had no place.

As Deendayalji travelled all over the country and thought deeply on many problems we urged him to write a sort of diary of his thoughts and observations that could be published. Reluctantly he agreed and did his writing while travelling by train. For this reading and writing he particularly preferred slow trains.

Pragmatic Approach

The basic values about which he wrote and spoke were particularly noticeable when he presided over the Calicut session of the Jana Sangh. When he spoke on language he differed from the others in that his thinking was comprehensive and took into consideration the whole country. He adopted a pragmatic approach on the subject of language and said, “If I am talking to a Malayalam-speaking friend and if I do not understand his Malayalam and he does not understand my Hindi, but both of us can understand English, why should we not talk in the language we both know ? If I insisted on talking in Hindi and he insisted on talking in Malayalam there would be a communication gap and nothing would be achieved.”

Deendayalji’s faith in democracy was also a lessson for us. When the Emergency was declared in June 1975 newspapers of the world began to say, “Indian democracy is dead, only an obituary needs to be written”. Even in our country people began to believe this. In those days I had gone to Banglore for two days and remained there in jail for 20 months. People used to ask me ‘Do you know of any example of a dictator leaving his seat of power peacefully ?’ I agreed that it was not so simple, but I also pointed out that there is also no example of a dictator having been removed by force and democracy established. For a dictator removed by force is replaced not by democracy but by another dictator. So I had counselled people to mark time and preserve stamina. And suddenly one day elections were declared. The result of the elections, according to those then in power, was the result of misinformation. They said they were misinformed. But this was as it should have been. For if there is a muzzling of the means of communication and a consequent communication gap, it should not be only the people but also those in power who should suffer from the gap.

Implicit Faith in Common Man

Anyway it is to the credit of the people that in spite of being fed with one-sided propaganda for 19 long months they overthrew the government at the very first opportunity. This was the result of the common voter’s mature judgement in which Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya had implicit faith. He always said that the common man, even the common villager, always knew what was what. and it was the so-called sophisticated city-dweller who at times went astray. The assembly elections that followed the general elections convincingly proved that the results were not just due to a, “Janata Wave” but sprang from the considered verdict of the electorate.

These days some people express a lot of concern about the law and order situation, rising prices and such things. But the public at large knows that many of the problems facing the present government are a legacy of the past. Secondly, when there was so much muzzling in the past it is natural that there should be an opposite and sometimes explosive reaction with the advent of freedom in the labour field, the world of students and such other sections of the society.

As for rising prices, they are partly a legacy of the past and partly a result of steps taken by the present government. The government took these steps knowing full well their inflationary effect, because the party now in power wanted to keep its promise to the people. This party wants to remain true to the people because it is not an opportunist alliance or an ad hoc electoral arrangement. It is a natural process of progress.

Comprehensive Document of Government

Its manifesto is a comprehensive document of government. In it we find the view-point of Mahatma Gandhi, that of Dr. Lohia and also that of Pandit Deendayal. It has given an ideological base to the party which rests on two primary tenets-Democracy and Decentralisation-decentralisation both of economic and political power. The unity with which this party functions and the constant consultation in which its government works were never seen in the days of the previous government. The cabinet meets with almost religious regularity, in which we discuss all things in all ways. But after decisions are taken we function like a team.

There is no one in this party who has accepted its principles and policies without believing in them. We are all dedicated to fulfilling what has been said in the manifesto. And in this endeavour our sources of inspiration are three-Mahatma Gandhi, after him Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, and after him Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. And one more in this illustrious line is Loknayak Jaya Prakash Narayan. So let us take inspiration from the ideal lives of these great men for the completion of our mission. Following in their footsteps and striving to become ideal not only in social life but also in our own personal lives would be the greatest tribute to the memory of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

(Based on speech by Shri Lal Krishna Advani, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, on the occasion of Deendayal Upadhyaya Birthday Celebrations at Bhopal on 25th September, 1977)