Kalyan Singh, BJP’s first chief minister in UP, dies

During his tenure as the party chief, the state witnessed the rise of two powerful but ideologically opposite OBC leaders – Singh and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Born on January 5, 1932, Kalyan Singh first became an MLA in 1967. (File Photo)
Born on January 5, 1932, Kalyan Singh first became an MLA in 1967. (File Photo)
Updated on Aug 22, 2021 05:23 AM IST
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By Manish Chandra Pandey, Hindustan Times, Lucknow

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, who formed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first government in the state in 1991, died of sepsis and multi-organ failure at Lucknow’s Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences on Saturday, the hospital said in a statement late at night. He was 89.

“Former Chief Minister of UP and Ex-Governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh Ji breathed his last today. He died due to sepsis and multi-organ failure,” said a statement by the hospital. The BJP stalwart was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit on July 4 due to an infection and reduced consciousness level.

Singh, who was accused of criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case for it was during his tenure as chief minister that the 16th century mosque was demolished, also served as the Rajasthan governor between 2014 and 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that coming generations will remain forever grateful to Singh for his contributions towards India’s “cultural regeneration”.

“Kalyan Singh Ji gave voice to crores of people belonging to the marginalised sections of society. He made numerous efforts towards the empowerment of farmers, youngsters and women,” he said in a tweet.

Singh was firmly rooted in Indian values and took pride in its centuries-old traditions, the PM said and lauded him as a “statesman, veteran administrator, grassroots level leader and great human”.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who rushed to SGPGI soon after Singh’s death, announced a three-day mourning in the state.

“It is an irreparable loss for all of us. We have lost a great leader,” the chief minister said. “The body of the great leader would be taken from the hospital to his Mall Avenue residence and from where on Sunday his body would be kept at the Vidhan Bhawan as well as the UP BJP office,” the CM said.

Appointed the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit chief after the demise of the party’s first state chief Madhav Prasad Tripathi in 1984, Singh was tasked with countering the Mandal agitation that the BJP’s ideological fount Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh feared would divide the Hindus on the basis of caste.

Recalling Singh’s appointment by the late RSS leader Bhaurao Deoras, former state minister Rajendra Tiwari said, “Deoras told Kalyan to start holding meetings across the state... I remember the late RSS leader telling Kalyan, ataichi uthao aur sabhayein karon .. (pack your suitcase and start visiting the state to hold meetings).”

During his tenure as the party chief, the state witnessed the rise of two powerful but ideologically opposite OBC leaders – Singh and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Hailed by many for his administrative acumen, the influential OBC leader from western UP parted ways twice with the BJP and briefly floated his own outfits.

While he returned to the BJP ahead of the 2004 general elections after leaving it for the first time in 1999, his second parting was in 2009, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, when he said he felt “humiliated” by the party. Singh said it was a “political blunder” to have rejoined the BJP.

Born on January 5, 1932, Kalyan Singh first became an MLA in 1967. Since then, he won the assembly polls several times, held important posts in the BJP and was appointed Rajasthan governor in the last phase of his public life.

But it was the fall of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, after the Sangh Parivar campaign to build a Ram temple at the spot gained momentum, that became the defining moment of Singh’s two stints as the UP chief minister.

Admitting his failure to protect the mosque, he resigned the same evening. The state assembly was dissolved as riots erupted at several places in the country.

In the November 1993 assembly election, Singh contested from two seats — Atrauli and Kasganj — and won both. But he got his second shot at the top post in September 1997, becoming CM again under a six-month rotation formula with the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Even as the Babri Masjid demolition case trial dragged on, with several senior BJP leaders named as accused, Singh enjoyed immunity from trial as he held a gubernatorial post.

After demitting office as Rajasthan governor, he appeared before the CBI court which pronounced its order in September 2020, acquitting him and 31 others accused of conspiracy to demolish the mosque.

The judge concluded that there was no evidence to show that the demolition was pre-planned.

With inputs from agencies

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021