Murali Manohar Joshi’s Life Yatra enters 90th year


Without any shadow of doubt, Dr Murali Manohar Joshi has been amongst the most accomplished politicians in the country and his commitment to the purity of Sangh ideology, made him even a unique personality amongst the founders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Dr Joshi entered the 90th year of his own life’s journey on Wednesday and though he is no longer in active politics, he continues to profess and abide by the principles of the Sangh which he learnt very early in life. However, being a scientist, his world view is much more rational and flexible than many of his colleagues and even when he sees things through the prism of the Hindutva agenda, his opinion is based on the fall out of the narrative and how it would impact the country and its politics and economics. Not many people are aware that Dr Joshi was born in Delhi and has a deep connection with the capital; his late father who passed away when he was barely six months old, had played a major role in the construction of Pul Bangsh and Pul Mithai in the central part of the city. A Professor of Physics at the Allahabad University where he had as his senior colleague, Prof.Rajinder Singh “Rajju Bhaiya’’, the former RSS Chief, Dr Joshi influenced the lives of uncountable number of students. Madan Lal Khurana, the erstwhile Chief Minister of Delhi, who was a student leader at the Allahabad University, once told me that how his life changed because of this iconic personality. Khurana had recalled that when he went to give the invitation letter to Dr Joshi for a Union function, he was admonished for writing the letter in English. Khurana tried to justify this by stating that there were only English typewriters so what could he do. Dr Joshi sternly told him that he could have at least signed his name in Hindi. Thereafter Khurana always signed his name in Hindi in any official communication. The veteran politician has mentored many leaders and it was during his Ekta Yatra from December, 1991 to January 26th, 1992, the present Prime Minister, Narendra Modi made his debut on the national scene by being his mascot throughout the long journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. This was 31 years ago and when the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi is heading towards the same destination, Dr Joshi’s determination in completing the mission needs to be recalled and commended. On January 25th, a day before he was to unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk, the Yatra was halted by the then government at Patnitop, enroute to Srinagar. The authorities declined to permit it to head towards its final destination. However, the Indian Army intervened and impressed on the government to revise its decision on the ground that if the National Flag was not unfurled at the Lal Chowk, the militants and separatists in the valley would be emboldened thus sending a wrong message. Therefore, he and Modi were both flown to Srinagar where senior Army officials received them and expressed their gratitude for taking up this difficult mission. The Tricolour was unfurled at the Lal Chowk on the Republic Day, a very big achievement at that point of time. Dr Joshi is also amongst a very few politicians who have been elected to the Lok Sabha from four different constituencies of Uttar Pradesh. In 1977, he made his Parliamentary debut from Almora (then in UP) and later represented Allahabad, Varanasi and Kanpur. A scholar and a statesman, Dr Joshi has thorough knowledge of Indian scriptures and has a perspective on issues which is very much his own and also very well argued and articulated. Five years younger than former BJP president, L.K.Advani, Dr Joshi had been a key member of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cabinet and was regularly consulted on major issues by the former Prime Minister. There are not many politicians who have the grasp of Indian reality as much as him. In 2017, there was intense speculation that he could be fielded as the BJP candidate for the Presidentship. However, his did not happen. Many of his supporters had gathered at his residence on Raisina Road on Wednesday to wish him on his birthday. His contribution to the Sangh ideology and national politics has been immense and makes him amongst the tallest leaders of his time and generation.