THE FIRST DECADE

The first decade was a period of steady growth organisationally and policy evolution and elaboration ideologically. It took up the issues of territorial integrity like Kashmir, Kutch and Berubari - and in the process suffered the martyrdom of its founder-President Dr Mookerjee in a Kashmir jail. It demanded cow protection as per Article 48 of the Constitution and Gandhiji's declaration that "Cow protection is more important than even Swarajya". It came out against Zamindari and Jagirdari.

It criticised permit- licence-quota Raj. And it came out for the nuclear option to reinforce national defence. The 1962 China war and 1965 Pakistan war put Sangh Parivar on the center-stage as the conscience of the country. When the RSS Parivar was entrusted with police duties in 1965, and it performed the same to the satisfaction of all-even Muslims began to join Jana Sangh. Shri Guruji was specially invited to the National Integration Council. General Kulwant Singh said at the time: "Punjab is the sword arm of India and RSS is the sword arm of Punjab."

In all countries, parties associated with the freedom movement enjoy long years of power. So did the Congress - for 20 years. But the 1967 elections ended the Congress monopoly of power. From Punjab to Bengal there were non-Congress coalitions everywhere. As a political wit put it: "You could travel from Amritsar to Calcutta without setting foot in Congress territory."

In most of the States Jana Sangh and the Communists worked together. They seemed to be guided by the dictum: "We are all children of Bharat mata and we are all products of the 20th century."

However, this was more than the monopolistic Congress could stand. It used its vast money power and its capacity for intrigue to topple government after state government.

But even so Jana Sangh did not lose heart. Under the leadership of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya it held a tremendous session in Calicut. Here it clarified its language policy of "All encouragement to all Indian languages" to the delight of all linguistic groups. The Mathrubhumi, leading Malayali daily, described the BJS session "the Ganga flowing South."

However, within days of this historic session Deendayalji was found murdered near Mugalsarai railway station. In good faith the BJS asked for a CBI enquiry. But the way CBI drew blank made it clear that Central Agency has been politicised and that it would never unravel political crime.

Although the murder of Deendayalji was a stunning shock the BJS was too big and too strong to be stopped in its tracks. Under the leadership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, it enthussiastically joined the movement for the libera- tion of Bangladesh. Its agitation for a higher procurement price for cereals gave the country food sufficiency and food security. Its election manifesto for 1971 was titled "War on Poverty". The Congress stole that slogan and hindi-ised it into "Garibi hatao" and swept the 1971 and 1972 polls. But once again Jana Sangh was too good and strong to be overwhelmed by the ebb and tide of politics.