Kalyan Singh, the hardcore ‘Hindutva’ face of BJP

Kalyan Singh, the hardcore ‘Hindutva’ face of BJP

It was during Singh’s stint as the CM of UP that the Babri Masjid had been demolished in Ayodhya by thousands of Karsevaks in 1992

Kalyan Singh. Credit: PTI file photo

Once considered to be a potential candidate for the post of prime minister, Kalyan Singh, one of the key figures behind the Ram Temple movement, is credited with the rise of the BJP in India’s largest and politically most crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

Born on January 5, 1932 at Madhauli village in UP’s Aligarh district, about 400 kilometres from Lucknow, Singh, who served twice as the chief minister of the state, represented Atrauli constituency in the state assembly as Jan Sangh, Janata Party and BJP representative on several occasions.

Hailing from the electorally influential ‘Lodha Rajput’ community, which has a large presence in over two dozen assembly seats in several districts of central and west UP, Singh rose to power riding the Ram Temple movement of which he was one of the main crusaders.

Read | Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh passes away

It was during Singh’s stint as the chief minister of UP that the Babri Masjid had been demolished in Ayodhya by thousands of Karsevaks on December 6, 1992.

Singh resigned owing moral responsibility for the demolition. The then Congress government at the centre later dissolved the state assembly but by then Kalyan Singh had already emerged as the new poster boy of ‘Hindutva’.

Veteran journalist and Lucknow based media analyst Rakesh Pandey says that Singh was then considered ‘equal’ to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K.Advani in stature in the BJP.

"Such was his popularity after the Babri Masjid demolition that it took him 13 hours to cover a distance of 130 kilometres from Lucknow to Ayodhya, when he visited the temple town after the demolition," Rakesh Pandey recalled.

Singh again became the chief minister of UP in September 1997 and remained so till November 1999.

In 1998 his government was dismissed by the then UP governor Romesh Bhandari, who thereafter invited Jagadambika Pal, then the leader of a breakaway group of Congress legislators, to form the government. The Allahabad high court, however, quashed the governor’s decision and ordered status quo ante and as a result Singh again became the CM.

Singh quit the BJP after his son Rajveer Singh was denied BJP nomination from Etah LS seat. He formed his own outfit Jan Kranti Party and became its patron while his son was its president. He rejoined the BJP later and was appointed the governor of Rajasthan, when BJP was swept to power following 2014 LS polls.

He was acquitted in the Babri Masjid demolition case by a special CBI court in Lucknow.

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