Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Story: Jana Sangh was already there, then why did you name the new party BJP, how was Nana Ji ‘out’? – Atal Bihari Vajpayee LK Advani Jansangh already had a pure political story, then why the new party was named bjp
The attack on Jansangh had started in the Janata Party itself. Jagjivan Ram wrote a letter blaming the election defeat. Advani and Vajpayee understood which direction it was going. When the Janata Party decided to hold a meeting on April 4, 1980 to take a final decision on ‘dual membership’, Vajpayee and Advani announced a Jana Sangh rally on April 5 and 6. Similar fears were expressed at the Janata Party meeting. With a 14-vote majority of the national vote, the national executive decided that even a member of the Janata Party could not be a member of the RSS. The Jana Sangh considered him a virtual expulsion and decided to leave the Janata Party instead of leaving the RSS.
The next day, on 5th April 1980, a meeting of the Jana Sangh was held at Ferozeshah Kotla. 1500 people were expected to come, but only 3,683 party representatives were present. On the stage were pictures of Deendayal Upadhyay along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan, who were decorated with flowers and garlands. People were present on the platform and were also giving speeches not related to the RSS, such as lawyers Shanti Bhushan, Ram Jethmalani and Sikandar Bakht. At the same time, LK Advani announced a new party, whose president Vajpayee said in a speech on April 6 that ‘there was no flaw in the policies and programs of the Janata Party. In fact, people voted against the behavior of politicians. The new party’s agenda and logo were to be announced later, but the name was announced on April 6, 1980, before the end of the day. Instead of re-accepting the name Jansangh, the new party wanted to present itself as the successor to the Janata Party. It was renamed as Bharatiya Janata Party i.e. BJP.
How Nana Ji was ‘out’
The Sangh was thankful to Vajpayee and Advani for deciding to form a new party instead of leaving the Sangh. On April 13, 1980, the editor of ‘Organizer’ claimed that, ‘Many people want to name the new party as the old Jana Sangh, but the new name was suitable for the new party … While showing warmth of loyalty to the RSS, he mercilessly eliminated the rest of his rivals in the new party. He met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Balasaheb Deoras and said, ‘Swami will stay in the party or I will stay’.
The person who had difficulty getting Vajpayee out was Nanaji Deshmukh. Jana Sangh co-founder Nanaji was older than Vajpayee and was probably the only person in the party who could only say ‘Atal’ without using the venerable ‘G’. But until then, he was disillusioned with the Nanaji Janata Party’s emphasis on ambition over principles. He was also opposed to Vajpayee’s systematic demotion. Like other parties, Nanaji could have created a public debate on this. Instead, he announced his retirement from politics. He said he was sixty and wanted to set an example.
Nanaji decided to work in rural India. Eventually he moved to Chitrakoot and started working with the tribals. The choice of Chitrakoot as a place was also symbolic as it is mentioned in Ramayana that Rama along with his brother Lakshman and wife Sita spent some time in these forests during their fourteen year exile. Nanaji had also decided to spend his ‘exile’ in this Chitrakoot. His exit also ended the last contest in the partnership between Vajpayee and Advani. The RSS was indebted to both of them, so now the pair was free to decide what the new pair would look like.
Atal-Advani are moving forward
Jugalbandi is a form of music in which two musicians perform in such harmony that one does not know who the main performer is and who is accompanying him. Advani was under Vajpayee’s control for decades, but by 1980, their relationship had remained the same. In the past, Advani always needed Vajpayee, but now Vajpayee also needed Advani. The two had a classical juxtaposition. For this reason, Vajpayee made sure that Advani joined him to learn from the failed experiment of the Janata government in shaping the BJP. They thought together and came to the conclusion that the people’s government has come up with a different ideology, including civil liberties, socialism and decentralization. Both were of the opinion that this ideology was more acceptable to the Indian electorate than Hindutva. In the 1980 elections, voters did not reject the legacy of JP’s ideology, but the struggle between the leaders who implemented it. Vajpayee and Advani concluded that the newly formed Hindu nationalist discipline of the BJP would have to blend into Jayaprakash Narayan’s policies. He will have to distance himself from the RSS. Vajpayee and Advani needed a lot of skill to form such a moderate party. The two had a habit of working together to strike a balance between parliament, the party, the movement and the electorate. He was sure he could do it again.
(Vinay Sitapati’s book – ‘Jugalbandi, BJP before Modi era’ Hindi translation courtesy of Hind Pocket Books)
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