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Kalyan Singh believed Secularism is not reverse discrimination of Hindu sentiment

WebdeskAug 22, 2021, 10:43 AM IST

Kalyan Singh believed Secularism is not reverse discrimination of Hindu sentiment

New Delhi: Celebrated for his stint in office as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister during the Babri demolition in 1992, Kalyan Singh will be remembered for rejuvenating the BJP in the early 1990s.


Picked up originally by Nanaji Deshmukh and later by L K Advani, Kalyan Singh perhaps offered himself to the cause of Ram Mandir for his own reasons and commitment, while all others in his party accepted him as their leader owing to a plethora of factors.


The man, who spoke the language of rustics, Kalyan Singh gave the much essential Hindutva idiom to casteist polity of Uttar Pradesh in the post-Mandal 1990s and changed the fate of his party BJP and Indian politics.

The first OBC Hindutva icon and the first BJP chief minister of country's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, Kalyan Singh leaves behind a far-reaching impact in Indian politics.


It is often argued with merits that the secular polity cannot be 'irreligion'; but the basis of secularism could not a reverse discrimination against the majority Hindu sentiment. This is something Kalyan Singh believed in.

His compatriot and arch political rival, Mulayam Singh Yadav, used to say that none other than Kalyan Singh represented an ideal mix of 'Mandal (the caste factor)' and Kamandal (symbol of Hindu rituals).


But the political adventurism of the duo failed to make many gains in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.


In 1998 parliamentary polls, it was Kalyan Singh as Chief Minister of UP, who delivered his party and Atal Bihari Vajpayee the 58 of the 182 Lok Sabha seats. This was a record performance till the 'Modi wave' gave BJP 71 seats from the state out of 80 in 2014.


The win in 1998 ensured the second Vajpayee government for 13 months, the first one being in 1996 for mere 13 days.


But it is also true, Kalyan Singh lacked the sophistication, and though a good orator in political rallies, he made enemies too by his certain remarks.


Born on Jan 5, 1932, and hailing from the Lodhi caste, his chief ministership also marked his differences with Vajpayee and some other party colleagues like Lalji Tandon.


Therefore, despite efforts made by veteran Advani, he quit BJP and floated his regional outfit.


Hailed as 'Babuji' by political foot soldiers, he returned to the party fold nevertheless and became Governor of Rajasthan in 2014 after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister.


It may not be wrong to call him one of the first 'Hindu Hriday Samrats', but he liked to call himself a dedicated Ram Bhakt even when he was out of the BJP.


Years later, he would steadfastly defend his decision to deny permission to open fire on kar sewaks in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.


Kalyan Singh pursued politics around Ram Bhakti certainly, but he was also sensitive to the need of Roti for millions of his countrymen and thus when the stage was cleared in November 2019 for construction of the Ram temple, he had said, "Once the Temple comes, we will have both Ram and Roti. Ayodhya will become a world tourism hub and thousands will get employment. This was my dream".


But his political and personal life has also been marked by whimsical outbursts and mannerisms. Once he said, "I can show thumb to anyone...." but when things changed and he again befriended his compatriots and some seniors, Singh said, "Now, I am ready to shake hands. Here all my five fingers are involved, so you have to forget that singular thumb".


A man of conviction and a believer in quick decision making, Kalyan Singh often shared his dislike for indecisiveness at various levels and said: "Ghutna tek tek key, rajniti nahi karte (You don/t do politics by kneeling down and appearing so indecisive at times)".


His meteoric rise in BJP was also marred by quick downfall and political observers say, Kalyan Singh's life and career of fun and follies actually offered lessons to many younger leaders in the saffron party, never to 'overestimate' oneself bigger than the party and the ideologies of the Sangh.


Before the demolition of Babri structure, Kalyan Singh had promised the Supreme Court that the Masjid would be protected and as things turned otherwise, he was also held guilty of contempt of court in 1994.


In September 2019 he came to face trial for criminal conspiracy for demolition of the Babri Masjid and was acquitted by a special court of the CBI in 2020 along with other BJP stalwarts including Advani and M M Joshi.


In 2010 - weeks after the Liberhan report was tabled in Lok Sabha - former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh had told this writer: "The Liberhan Commission report is politically motivated and also not based on facts. What happened at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 was not meticulously planned. It was only a spontaneous reaction of the anger of Karsevaks. I have said the Hindus and Muslims in this country must know and understand that Ram Temple will be built in Ayodhya and nobody can stop it".



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