Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh (89) breathed his last on Saturday and departed for the higher abode after battling a long session of hospitalization. He was the leader of the first BJP government formed in the state in the early 90s and immortalized himself in the history books for his selfless, unapologetic devotion and work for the cause of Dharma when the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, by the ‘Karsevaks’.
Born on 5 January 1932 in Harigarh (Aligarh for Liberal cabal) Kalyan Singh was inclined towards the cause of nationalism from the beginning. Being a student, he was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He took his baby steps in the political arena through the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1967 when he defeated the Congress candidate from his home town Atrauli by 4351 votes and, a star was born.
Afterwards, Kalyan Singh contested elections several times from 1969 to 2002, and he was victorious every single time except for an aberration in 1980. Gradually, his influence started increasing in the BJP and by 1984, he was appointed as the state president of the party.
The party that started its journey with 2 MPs in 1984, gained influence in the lower house, by the time the 1989 General elections approached. However, the saffron party still hadn’t received the mandate to come into power in any state. That changed in 1991 assembly elections under the leadership of Kalyan Singh where the BJP not only received a thumping majority but, as mentioned earlier, also established the first BJP government in any state.
This was the time when the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement was at its peak, and even after the detention of Lal Krishna Advani by Lalu Yadav and the massacre of unarmed “kar sevaks” by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Ayodhya, the enthusiasm of the Sanatanis, looking to undo the historic wrongs did not diminish.
However, on December 6, 1992, an incident shaped the national politics of the country, for the decades to come. A huge crowd of ‘Kar sevaks’ and Sanatanis surrounded the disputed area from all sides. The then Indian Home Minister Shankarrao Chavan informed Kalyan Singh that the ‘Kar sevaks’ had reached near the dome of the Babri Masjid. However, Kalyan Singh refused to allow the bullets to be fired on the Kar sevaks, and preferred to resign from the CM post.
Singh in an interview famously said, “I am not sorry for the demolition of the structure. Nor do I feel any contrition for it. No regrets, no repentance, no sorrow, no grief. Following the demolition of the controversial structure, many regard the event as a matter of national shame but I say that it is a matter of national pride.”
Even last year, during an interview Kalyan Singh claimed that he was proud of his decision, “That day (December 6) amid the build-up, I got a call from the district magistrate of Ayodhya saying that nearly 3.5 lakh kar sewaks had assembled. I was told that central forces were on their way to the temple town but their movement was halted by kar sewaks outside Saket college. I was asked whether to order firing (on kar sewaks) or not. I denied permission in writing and said in my order, which is still there on the files, that firing would lead to the loss of many lives, chaos and law and order issues across the country.”
After the revocation of President’s rule in 1993, when elections were held in Uttar Pradesh, the Kalyan Singh contested from two seats — Atrauli and Kasganj — and won both. BJP emerged as the single largest party but the coalition of SP and BSP formed the government.
The victorious alliance of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram not only celebrated this fact but also insulted Hindus by raising slogans like, “Mile Mulayam Kanshi Ram, Hawa mein udd gaye Jai Shri Ram!”. Imagine the level of Hindu hatred at the time and how Kalyan Singh weathered the storm and yet didn’t allow the trigger to be pulled on the ‘Karsevaks’.
Read More: Did PV Narasimha Rao orchestrate the Babri demolition?
UP’s Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya took to Twitter to announce that roads will be named after Late Kalyan Singh Ji in different districts of the state. He tweeted in Hindi, “In the memory of Ram Bhakt Late #KalyanSinghji, Public Works Department will name one road each in Ayodhya, Aligarh, Etah, Bulandshahr and Prayagraj. Babu Ji gave up power for Ram
Mandir but did not fire on the kar sevaks. Instructions to the officers to submit the proposal soon”
The renaming of the roads was announced amid increasing demands by the state BJP leadership for renaming the newly constructed mini airport in Aligarh, the hometown of Kalyan Singh. The reports were further fuelled by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself who told reporters in Aligarh that a Cabinet meeting is set to be held on the issue. The Yogi administration had also announced three-day mourning and a holiday on Monday,
Kalyan’s death brought a tear or two in the eye of the biggest political stalwarts of the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, CM Yogi Adityanath, and several other big names paid tributes to the influential Hindutva leader.
PM Modi in his grief tweeted, “I am saddened beyond words. Kalyan Singh Ji…statesman, veteran administrator, grassroots level leader and great human. He leaves behind an indelible contribution towards the development of Uttar Pradesh. Spoke to his son Shri Rajveer Singh and expressed condolences. Om Shanti,”
After visiting the veteran leader’s home, while talking to reporters, PM Modi added, “This is a moment of grief for all of us. His (Kalyan Singh) parents had named him Kalyan Singh. He lived his life in such a way that he fulfilled the name given by his parents. He lived his entire life for the public welfare. He made ”jan kalyan” as the mantra of his life, and dedicated his life for the BJP, Bharatiya Jan Sangh family, for an ideology and for the bright future of the country,”
Union home minister Amit Shah said the country lost an “honest politician” and a “patriot”, comparing Singh with a banyan tree under which the BJP’s organisation flourished and spread.
Kalyan Singh’s last wish was to see Ram Mandir come up in Ayodhya before his death and reborn in the temple town once again. While Singh might have departed before the Gates of Ram Mandir are opened, he certainly would be remembered as the man that gave Dharma and his ideology absolutely everything and not once wavered on it. A true champion and a rare breed of politician that kept his beliefs hoisted even through the bleakest of times.