Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath pays last respect to former Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, on his demise, in Lucknow.(PTI)
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, who died here on Saturday night, led the state's first-ever Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 1991 and was the chief minister when the Babri mosque in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992.
Former minister Rajendra Tiwari, who was the UP BJP secretary when Kalyan Singh was the state party chief in 1984, remembers Singh, an OBC leader, as "a cadre's delight."
Kalyan, known as "babuji," gathered top police and administrative officials to the Tilak Hall of Lucknow's state headquarters shortly after becoming chief minister for the first time in 1991.
“It took a lot of effort to build our government. Cadres played a crucial role in the battle, carrying lathis and ammunition. Just make certain of one thing. Be kind to our cadres if they approach you with work or a complaint. Even if you are unable to assist them for some reason, at the very least provide them with sweets and water...”
Singh, who was born on January 5, 1932, played a major part in the BJP's ascendancy in Uttar Pradesh.
After the sudden death of the party's first state chief Madhav Prasad Tripathi, Kalyan was handpicked by the late Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader Bhaurao Deoras to lead the UP BJP unit. Kalyan soon had a job on his hands – countering the Mandal agitation, which the RSS feared would divide Hindus along caste lines.
“Deoras informed Kalyan that he needed to start hosting meetings all around the state... Attache uthao aur sabhayein karon... (pack your suitcase and start visiting the state to hold meetings),” Tiwari recalled the late RSS leader telling Kalyan.
Kalyan did as he was told, and his speeches would always mention the Ayodhya Ram temple agitation. It was a time in UP when the Congress was on the decline, and the ascent of two formidable, but ideologically opposed OBC leaders who had controlled politics for a long time — Kalyan Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.
As luck would have it, Kalyan performed the inconceivable for a 10-month period, befriending his ideological enemy, convincing his son to join the SP, attending the party's Agra conference, and even donning the SP's "red cap." He would subsequently come to regret his decision.
“That was a huge blunder... Now I want to die as a BJP supporter. I've always been a swayamsevak...,” he told HT shortly after joined the BJP.
He left the BJP three times, twice due to disagreements with the party's leadership and again in 2014 after being appointed governor of Rajasthan, each time returning to the party.
“The RSS would never leave him. He was their favourite, who combined Hindutva with backward politics and helped in uniting Hindus. Kalyan himself was livid with Mandal politics and actively participated in meetings to counter the reservation politics of Mandal with what was called Kamandal,” a BJP leader requesting anonymity stated.
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