Kalyan Singh is no more, but all the stories related to him will remain in the memories of the people of Uttar Pradesh and BJP workers for a long time. The most interesting story of Kalyan Singh becoming the Chief Minister. Very few people would know that Kalyan Singh’s name was put forward for Chief Minister only after the refusal of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Otherwise, the first choice of the BJP leadership as its first chief minister in the country’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, was the party’s most recognized leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
BJP in Uttar Pradesh
In 1991, for the first time in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party government was formed on its own. At the center, Congress had made PV Narasimha Rao the Prime Minister. This was the climax period of the Ram Mandir movement.
A few months before the elections, police had opened fire on the orders of the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government to control the kar sevaks gathered at the disputed site in Ayodhya, in which several kar sevaks were killed and injured.
The atmosphere was very warm and exciting. In such an environment, the BJP got an absolute majority for the first time in Uttar Pradesh in the assembly elections. For the party and the entire Sangh Parivar, the formation of its government after independence in the country’s largest state was a great success for future politics. That’s why the BJP wanted to hand over this success to mature hands. There was no better name for this than Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee doesn’t want to be the CM of Uttar Pradesh
A prominent BJP leader says that it was decided between the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership and the BJP leadership that Atal Bihari Vajpayee should be made the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh,
Because the position of the Chief Minister of the country’s largest state has been considered second only to the Prime Minister and the Congress at the Center has made a learned and senior Brahmin leader of South India as the Prime Minister, so the BJP has the same senior and mature Brahmin leader to compete with him. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh should be made from his side.
That is why there was a discussion on the name of Vajpayee, but Vajpayee left the central politics and expressed his reluctance to run the government by going to the politics of the state.
Sources also say that instead of outright refusing, Vajpayee made a condition that he would take up this responsibility only if the Sangh leadership promised that the temple issue would not be raised for the next four years and that he would be allowed to work uninterrupted. This condition was absolutely not acceptable to the Sangh and the VHP and Atal refused to go to Lucknow as the Chief Minister.
Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi suggested the name of Kalyan Singh
It is said that after this the idea of another name started and then BJP President Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi was found most suitable for this. Because Joshi is a native of Uttarakhand which was then a part of Uttar Pradesh and Allahabad has been his karmabhoomi. His scholarship and knowledge are unmatched.
He was a Brahmin as well as a big face of the temple movement and his hold on religion and culture was undeniable, but Dr. Joshi had become the national president of the BJP only a few months ago, so he said that his departure would send a message that, There is no leader in the state, so he sent his president only.
After this, the churning started on the names of the state leaders, and then Dr. Joshi proposed the name of Kalyan Singh to counter Mandal politics. Kalyan Singh was also the state BJP president before this and he had the blessings of Dr. Joshi. This was the same period when BJP started advancing backward castes under its principle of social engineering.
Given this, Joshi’s advice was also accepted by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani and the Sangh leadership also agreed. After this, Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister of the first BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
Kalyan Singh Left BJP for some time and went with Mulayam
Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister at the time of the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and after the fall of his government, he took responsibility for it and even said in the Supreme Court that he alone is responsible for this incident, but if some officials close to him are to be believed, then he is not. Wanted that there should be some damage to Babri Masjid.
On December 4, 1992, when the then Union Minister Arjun Singh came to Lucknow and met him, Kalyan Singh had assured him that nothing would be allowed to happen in Ayodhya that would violate the Constitution and the Supreme Court of the country.
Due to this, Kalyan Singh feared that the status quo upper caste lobby of BJP and Sangh Parivar was conspiring to bring down his government more than the Ram temple because he could not tolerate a backward chief minister in the country’s largest state.
He had also shared this apprehension with some of his very close people and he himself used to say this after leaving the BJP. After leaving BJP, when he came with Mulayam Singh Yadav, he often argued in his defense on the Ayodhya issue that the Ayodhya incident took place keeping him in the dark and he been silent.
Kalyan Singh was also accused of giving excessive preference to backward classes within the party. Interestingly, the then upper caste leaders of BJP always targeted Kalyan Singh, but many backward leaders also could not bear his growing stature.
Some of them even cried to the central leadership that after all they also come from backward classes, but why they do not get the preference which is given to them as compared to Kalyan Singh. Later on, Kalyan left the party. Later some such leaders also reached top posts in BJP and government, but Kalyan Singh never cared for any kind of opposition.
Despite his political rivalry with Mulayam Singh Yadav, he also had a very close friendship, which too few people knew then, but later it became public.
Kalyan Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav had become two poles in the politics of Uttar Pradesh, but from 1995, Mayawati emerged as a third pole and this third pole brought Kalyan and Mulayam even closer.
In 1997, Mulayam Singh Yadav was most disturbed when the BJP and BSP had an agreement for the chief minister’s post for six months without taking Kalyan into confidence. Mulayam Singh Yadav had told me then that he is now concerned about Kalyan Singh because the way BJP is pushing Mayawati forward will derail Kalyan Singh’s politics.
Kalyan Singh’s relationship with controversies
Kalyan Singh was also associated with controversies, but he was never afraid of controversies. After becoming the Chief Minister for the first time, he launched a campaign to make Uttar Pradesh crime-free, and many notorious mafia gangsters either left the state or were jailed.
Like the Yogi government, there was no controversy over Kalyan Singh over police encounters, but his first term is still remembered by people for improving law and order.
But in his second term, he could not leave a mark in the matter of welfare law and administration and during his time many such leaders joined the BJP or came with the BJP who had serious criminal cases against him. Crime in Uttar Pradesh can also be called a new chapter of political patronage with the way his government had saved the Congress and BSP by breaking it.
Earlier the BJP used to make this allegation on Mulayam Singh Yadav, but later he himself had to get defensive in this matter when along with all the tainted leaders in his government, a leader also took oath as a minister against whom arrest warrant in a serious criminal case.
When this oath was being taken in Raj Bhavan, the tension on the faces of all the senior BJP leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee sitting there could be clearly seen.
Discord between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Kalyan Singh
In his second term, Kalyan Singh had come into direct confrontation with the then BJP’s peak man and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Kalyan felt that Vajpayee had the support of all the upper caste leaders of the BJP against him, whereas Vajpayee was fed up with the complaints coming from Lucknow every day.
Being an MP from Lucknow, he had a direct relationship with the leaders and workers of Uttar Pradesh BJP and journalists. That’s why every little thing went straight to him. This conflict had escalated to such an extent that even in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, Kalyan Singh was not only trying to weaken the BJP in Uttar Pradesh but was also arranging for Atal Bihari Vajpayee to lose from Lucknow.
Although Vajpayee won from Lucknow, his margin of victory had narrowed significantly and the BJP, which had won 59 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in 1998, came down to 29 seats. After this, anti-welfare leaders in the state BJP got an opportunity to mobilize against him, and then he had to first step down from the post of Chief Minister and then go out of the party.
The BJP paid the price for losing Kalyan by losing Uttar Pradesh.
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Nikita Dhyani is a passionate writer. She basically writes on Health, Finance, and Politics related topics. She has explored many areas of interest and is being a part of the journalism industry.