New Delhi, Aug. 26: When Murli Manohar Joshi and Marxists hum the same tune, blame it on the Upanishads.
In the Lok Sabha today, the Sangh favourite and BJP veteran threw his weight behind what has so far been primarily a Left demand — universal food security.
Only, he found his reasons for doing so not in The Communist Manifesto or CPM politburo releases but in ancient Hindu texts and — of all things — in a speech by a representative of the Citadel of Capitalism.
Joshi cited the Upanishads, which many credit with underlying a version of Hinduism far removed from the Sangh-BJP’s, to say that the guarantee of food should go beyond human beings to include all creatures.
“Our ancient texts, the Upanishads, and saints had directed ‘Annam bahukurvi’,” he said, providing the translation himself: “Produce food abundantly.”
“Produce abundantly so that humans, animals, birds, flies, dogs, cats, cows… can eat,” Joshi carried on as, in a rare sight, Left members thumped their desks in support of a man who, as human resource development minister in the NDA government, had been accused of “saffronising” education.
The communists were soon shifting uneasily in their seats: the BJP leader said he had turned a votary of food security after reading a sentence spoken by an American food secretary 25-30 years ago.
He didn’t name the US official but quoted the sentence: “Food is an important weapon and we can use it for negotiation.”
The Left has been canvassing for universal food security against the Centre’s plan of restricting the right to the poorest 67 per cent of the population.
Joshi echoed the comrades: “Bhojan sabko dijiye, koi bhukha na rahe (Feed all, let none be left hungry).”
He spoke of how the Upanishads are “resplendent with respect for ‘ann’ (food), with the discipline of offering ‘ann’ to all those who arrive at the door — at the doorstep of society, of the government — and with descriptions of the joy and bliss of the one who follows that discipline”.
Joshi’s stand mirrored the contradictions in the BJP, which officially supports the food security bill.
Many pro-reforms party leaders believe the bill is “retrograde” but are afraid of taking a public stand. Another party lobby, made up mainly by those close to the Sangh, feel that guaranteed food security is good policy.