Dr D. P. Vajpayee
Coming from a family of teachers, Atal ji was appalled by his constituency's poor state of education and focused on its betterment.
There are a lot of unknown facts about Atal ji' s early phase of political life. His foray into electoral politics began with the parliamentary constituency of Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh.
Balrampur is a small town in present-day Uttar Pradesh, about 170 km from Lucknow. Before independence, it used to be a talukdari estate under a king. Thus, it was relatively untouched by the nationalist movement. Balrampur estate was well administered, and Raja Saheb of Balrampur was way ahead of his times. He had made arrangements for education, healthcare, street lights, drainage and supply of electricity to his subjects when it was still a dream for other surrounding areas. In these circumstances, Atal ji was invited by local Jan Sangh and RSS volunteers to contest the second general elections in 1957. He had never travelled to this part of the state.
He was a thirty-two-year-old young man and rising star of the newly formed Bhartiya Jansangh BJS party. He unsuccessfully contested the Lucknow parliamentary election held in 1955, where he gave a tough fight to the ruling party despite many constraints of a new entrant. It helped him build up a reputation of an orator par excellence. Atal ji reminisces about his foray from Balrampur.
“"As far as the question of contesting parliamentary election from Balrampur was concerned, the party was relatively in a better shape in this seat in the sense of organisation and spirit of our workers. We had a good base amongst students, youths, shopkeepers, farmers, teachers, estate and government employees due to pioneering work done by Shri Pratap Narayan Tiwari first as an RSS pracharak and later as a BJS worker. Our nationalistic and patriotic ideology had a great appeal and drew many new adherents. The local unit felt that we had a good chance to win. Tiwari ji wanted me to contest from this seat, as he was impressed by my electoral debut from Lucknow's seat. So the party sent me to Balrampur. I had no information on the history and geography of this area. Balrampur was a small town on a narrow gauge line between Gonda and Gorakhpur. Though monarchy was abolished, yet it had many landlords and many of them were Muslims who used to discriminate against the Hindu population and it caused resentment at the local level. During the campaign, I noted that many villages did not even have permission to play conches and other musical instruments during their religious festivities.Thus, People were ready for a change and we provided an alternative in the form of the Bhartiya Jansangh."
Despite the constraints on available resources, Atal ji won his first parliamentary election from Balrampur in 1957 by a convincing margin. A young, energetic, and dynamic person who was thirty-two years of age, full of nationalistic and patriotic spirits, entered the parliament. This is the starting point of our story. Balrampur was responsible for shaping his personality and always had a special place in his heart, and the people of Balrampur reciprocated.
He contested three Lok Sabha elections from Balrampur. Won in two and lost by mere two thousand votes in the second due to machiavellian manipulation and the misinformation campaign by the Congress party, which he was able to avenge in 1962. He was focused on Balrampur for fifteen formative years of his life. The people of Balrampur had many fond memories of that time. There has been an immortal mutual bond of love, affection and admiration for him. I had an opportunity to witness it firsthand when I travelled far and wide in the interiors of this constituency (now it is part of the Shrawasti Lok Sabha seat) in 2013-14.
Coming from a family of teachers, he was appalled by his constituency's poor state of education and focused on its betterment. This is why the "Bhartiya Shiksha Prasaran Samiti" was born, which was registered in Gonda, headed by Shri Pratap Narayan Tiwari and the Samiti did pioneering work in spreading education in this backward area.
“A chain of seven schools were opened under his guidance in Balrampur and surrounding areas. In a few of them, he has been a member of the management committee and signatory to many minutes himself. Many schools are still running and shaping the lives of our young children; many of them are in bad shape and have been taken over by vested interests. It is high time to reclaim and revitalise them so that they help us realise the vision of their founders.”
The principal of a local school and a senior RSS functionary Shri Ram Kripal ji, expresses his concern about the sorry state of these schools "Management committees of these schools have either become rudderless or disjointed. If they are brought together with a renewed sense of purpose, they can serve a greater purpose and it will be our true tribute to Atal ji."
The Writer is the Director at Delhi Institute for Administrative Services (DIAS), a well-known guru for civil services aspirants, heads the Yugpurush Atal Bihari Vajpayee Seva Sansthan and is focussed on the overall development of the Balrampur-Shravasti area of Uttar Pradesh.
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