July 05, 2020
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I Called Vajpayee ‘Face of BJP’, Media Made It ‘Mukhota’

RSS ideologue K.N Govindacharya spoke to Outlook on Atal Behari Vajpayee's demise. He says, "Vajpayee and I have shared a father-son relationship."

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I Called Vajpayee ‘Face of BJP’, Media Made It ‘Mukhota’
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
I Called Vajpayee ‘Face of BJP’, Media Made It ‘Mukhota’

Atal Behari Vajpayee and the RSS shared a close bond—he was a swa­yamsevak totally devoted to the Sangh. The Sangh, in turn, has immense respect for him as a swayamsevak who was into politics. Vajpayee and I have shared a father-son relationship. His public life equals my age. As an RSS ideologue, I always respected his way of thinking. The RSS also adopted Atalji’s thoughts and ideology.

During the Bihar assembly elections of 1967, Atalji and I had an in-depth conversation. I was asked by the RSS to brief Atalji. I told him the time has come when the Sangh will have to strengthen itself to challenge the opposition. To this Atalji said, “Let the governm­ent be formed, time will tell who will sur­­­vive, who will stay and who will not”. He believed that we “needed power, but not at all costs”. He never compromised with this principle.

Read Also: Remembering Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Poet, Politician, And Orator

He was a master of the politics of consensus, a democrat. Atalji was by nature a moderate and abhorred violence. To him, language was a powerful weapon—a weapon that could spread hatred could also tackle situations without creating any tension. He said that he believed in ‘bhakti pradarshan’ and not ‘shakti pradarshan’.

Once I was misquoted by the media, which reported that I had called Atalji “the BJP’s mukhota” (mask). While answering a question about who was going to be the party president during the 1996 polls, I named someone else. “Why not Atalji?” I was asked. I replied, “Atalji is the most popular and most acceptable face of the BJP; by projecting him it will get a majority.” Some reporters replaced the Hindi word ‘chehra’ (face) with ‘mukhota’. I respect Atalji as my guru. A student can never speak ill of his guru.

(As Told To Satata Karmakar)

(The author is an RSS ideologue)

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