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India in Transition
Aditya Balasubramanian
September 26, 2022

“Deendayal Upadhyaya has become the political brand equity for the Bharatiya Janata Party that Gandhi was for the Congress Party,” a prominent BJP member asserted in 2017. And indeed, at the close of yearlong celebrations of the birth centenary of Upadhyaya (1916-68), the erstwhile General Secretary (1952-68) of the BJP’s forerunner Bharatiya Jana Sangh, there was reason to believe this was the case. Since its return to power with a majority in India’s Lok Sabha in 2014, the BJP made concerted efforts to elevate Upadhyaya to the status of national icon.