Kalyan Singh, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and former Governor of Rajasthan passed away on Saturday. He was ill for a long time and was admitted to a hospital in Lucknow. Several leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, have condoled his death. Yogi Adityanath has announced three days of state mourning in Uttar Pradesh and a public holiday on 23 August. Kalyan Singh breathed his last at the age of 89.
Kalyan Singh started his politics as an intense Hindutva leader when the Congress party dominated from Uttar Pradesh to the entire country.
From Jana Sangh to the Janata Party and then as the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, he also became MLA and Chief Minister of UP, but his political ambitions not only tarnished the image as a Hindutva leader but also became the reason for his untimely slide in politics.
Born on 5 January 1935 in a simple farmer family in the village of Madhauli of Atrauli tehsil of Aligarh district, Kalyan Singh had joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in his childhood.
After getting higher education, he did a teacher’s job and continued politics.
He reached the assembly for the first time from the Atrauli seat on Jana Sangh ticket in 1967 and continued to win from this seat till 1980.
Meanwhile, the Jana Sangh merged with the Janata Party in 1977. When the Janata Party government was formed in Uttar Pradesh, he was made the state’s health minister.
Image as Ram-bhakt
When the Bharatiya Janata Party was formed in the year 1980, Kalyan Singh was made the party’s state general secretary. He was instrumental in instilling enthusiasm in the ranks and file of the BJP. During this time, his image became that of a Ram-bhakt and his popularity increased not only in UP but in the whole country. In the year 1991, when BJP formed the government of full majority in UP for the first time, he was made the Chief Minister.
But Kalyan Singh faced defeat in the 1980 assembly elections.
Important role in the formation of BJP government in Uttar Pradesh
The period of politics in the early nineties was known as Mandal and Kamandal i.e. Reservation and Ram Mandir Movement.
On the one hand, there was support and opposition to the recommendations of the Mandal Commission across the country, while on the other hand the movement for Ram-Janmabhoomi was going on in Ayodhya.
On October 30, 1990, when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Chief Minister of UP, kar sevaks were fired upon in Ayodhya in which many kar sevaks died. BJP put forward Kalyan Singh to counter him.
In just a year, Kalyan Singh brought the BJP to such a position that the party formed a government of absolute majority in 1991.
After becoming the Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh along with his cabinet colleagues visited Ayodhya and took oath to build the Ram temple.
Kalyan Singh’s first term is remembered not only for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, but also as a strict, honest and efficient administrator. Kalyan Singh was the first to introduce the politics of Hindutva. He was an honest leader. He was from a backward class but he used to get votes of every caste. The Babri Masjid demolition incident was undoubtedly a big event of his tenure. But his tenure of about one and a half years is remembered as a strict administrator.
After the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, Kalyan Singh’s government was dismissed. But after this, the politics of Kamandal became heavy in UP and BJP had to struggle for five years to come back to power.
In the year 1997, Kalyan Singh again became the Chief Minister of UP, but this time he could not leave the same impression as the first term.
This time he could remain Chief Minister for only two years and his party removed him and made him another Chief Minister.
The differences with the top leadership of the party increased so much that Kalyan Singh resigned from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the same year and later formed a new party named Rashtriya Kranti Party.
Kalyan Singh not only broke ties with BJP, but also gave up on the issue of Ram temple.
He was a staunch Hindutva. Had he not left BJP twice and had not adopted such a method of defection, he would have been the biggest leader of BJP in today’s era. In that era also he was the third leader after Atal-Advani. After he left, the BJP suffered. Kalyan Singh’s political downfall had started when he formed a close alliance with the Samajwadi Party, contested elections together and then formed the government together.
BJP had to wait for almost a decade and a half to come to power. Kalyan Singh himself remained only a leader of the Lodh community instead of a Hindutva leader. Even when he returned to the BJP, his image remained the same. He was sent for campaigning in the same areas where Lodh is dominant.
Kalyan Singh insults Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister at that time. He was respected not only by the BJP but also by the people of the opposition parties, but Kalyan Singh insulted him in public. He used very derogatory language against Vajpayee in his conversation. Even if he had not been removed from the party at that time, the BJP’s image had become very bad. Three words he said about Vajpayee were very much talked about at that time – forgetful, boozy, drunk.
Leader of his own party, Kusum Rai, was also a reason for his political downfall, as per some accounts. He also used derogatory language against Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
However Kalyan Singh returned to the BJP in the year 2004 with efforts from Promod Mahajan who had the backing of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The party fought the 2007 assembly elections under his leadership but did not get much success.
Leaving and returning to BJP for the second time
In the year 2009, Kalyan Singh once again got angry with the BJP and left the party. Once again, he grew closer to the Samajwadi Party.
With the help of SP, he also won the independent election of the Lok Sabha from Etah, but with this support of Kalyan Singh caused a lot of damage to the Samajwadi Party and then the SP distanced itself from him.
In the year 2010, on his 77th birthday i.e, January 5, Kalyan Singh announced the formation of a new party named Jan Kranti Party and made his son Rajbir Singh the President of the party.
In the year 2012, the party also contested the assembly elections but did not get much success.
The very next year in 2013, Kalyan Singh once again joined the BJP and campaigned fiercely in favor of the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In 2014, BJP had won 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Kalyan Singh was made the Governor of Rajasthan in the year 2014 itself.
After the completion of the term, he once again took the membership of BJP, but after that the party did not give him any responsibility.
However, his son and grandson were given a respectable place by the BJP. Kalyan Singh’s son Rajveer Singh is an MP, while Rajveer’s son Sandeep Singh is a minister in the Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh.
Kalyan Singh made a respectable return to the BJP, but he never got the respect he had in the past as a fanatical Hindu leader among his supporters.