Kalyan Singh: the mascot and exemplar of Hindutva who withstood Mandal

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The former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Kalyan Singh, breathed his last on 21st August 2021 at Lucknow’s Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI). Kalyan Singh was 89. He was born on 5th January 1932 in the Aligarh District of the erstwhile United Provinces, now the State of Uttar Pradesh, in the pre-independence era and hailed from the Lodhi Community.

Kalyan Singh associated himself with the RSS at an early age and was conceded as the epitome of ‘Hindutva’ in the political arena. He had many feathers to his hat who was accredited for the formation of the first Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India.

There are umpteen anecdotes showing the ineludible contribution of Kalyan Singh in moulding the political discourse of the country. He remained an exemplar ever since he ventured into electoral politics in 1967. Kalyan Singh was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly to the first form Atrauli Constituency in 1967 on the symbol of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS). Atrauli became his pocket-borough. He went on to contest from Atrauli for ten straight times, winning nine of the ten elections with the only exception in 1980.

Kalyan Singh catapulted the BJP to power in Uttar Pradesh in 1991 thus becoming the first BJP CM of the state. He was the poster boy of the ‘Hinduvta’ who deflected the caste chasm incurred by the ‘Mandal Commission’ for the larger cause of Hindutva. The former CM rallied non-Yadav OBCs for the BJP and vociferously championed the cause of the Ram Temple movement to attenuate the caste wedge amongst the Hindus.

To this effect, Singh became the first BJP leader to be arrested for the Ram Temple movement. He posted a challenge to other OBC leaders of Janata Dal like Mulayam Singh Yadav, vying to cash in the Mandal Commission.

Non-Yadav OBCs accounted for around 17% and outweigh other larger OBC groups in Uttar Pradesh like Yadav and Kurmi. His consummate approach of unifying cast for the religion and the nation fructified. Singh was appointed the Party Chief of Uttar Pardesh after the demise of the then State President. He withstood Mandal politics.

Kalyan Singh had proven his mettle as an able administrator when he was the health minister of the State under the Janata Party in 1977. He was widely known as the man of his word who never digressed from his commitments. He was averse to criminals and dealt with them with an iron fist. The former CM was a popular leader revered for endearing himself with the cadres.

Upon being elected the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he circumvented the court directives of safeguarding the Mosque, shielded Karsevaks, assembled to demolish the Baba Masjid, built on the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. It was allegedly under his watch the Babri Mosque was razed to the ground on 6 December 1992, and for which he had to part ways with the CM’s chair.

Subsequently, Kalyan Singh was acquitted along with LK Advani, MM Joshi and 29 others by the CBI Court in Lucknow. In a true sense, he was the mascot of ‘Hinduvta’ who sacrificed the power for the cause.

Singh, in the course of the time, swerved and joined the Samajwadi Party, a decision which he accepted as a blunder. He had also quit the BJP a couple of times over the leadership once when he was nominated the Governor of Rajasthan by the President of India in 2014. He also achieved the feat of completing a five-year term of governorship in Rajasthan.

The former CM took the indictment of Liberhan Commission, a commission formed to probe the demolition of Babri Mosque, took with a pinch of salt throughout this life. Singh in his televised interviews had admitted, he had ‘no regret, no repentance, no sorrow and no grief’ over what had happened in Ayodhya. He swore not to shed blood, of Karsevaks.

He affirmed, had the Babri Mosque been not obliterated the judiciary in India would have prevailed the status quo. This was when he had vowed in an affidavit to secure the structure.

He continued to wear those pride on his sleeve till his last breath. The construction of the celestial Ram Temple in Ayodhya is the culmination of the dream dreamt by him.

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