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Kalyan - a veteran leader moulded in saffron - The Observer

Prajnan Bhattacharya ()
23 September 1997

Title: Kalyan - a veteran leader moulded in saffron
Author: Prajnan Bhattacharya
Publication: The Observer
Date: September 23, 1997

He is a staunch follower of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The
66-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party national vice-president, Kalyan Singh,
who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday for the
second time, has the distinction of representing his Assembly constituency
for' a record number of times

Before taking to active politics, Mr Singh was a language teacher in
Aligarh district. "I love teaching, especially teaching literature," he
says, adding, "though my passion and obsession is for mathematics."

"After a bachelor's degree in Arts, I decided to take up a teacher's job
just because I wanted to impart education to the poor. But my age-old
affinity with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. guided me towards Dindayal
Upadhaya and I became a whole-timer of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (erstwhile
Bharatiya Janata Party) in 1963 under his influence," the Chief Minister
said, adding, "that was the beginning of my political career and I never
looked back."

His entry into the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 1967 was a very dramatic one
as very few of his partymen could enter the Assembly then. He repeated
this feat in the next two elections in '69 and '74, in which he was very
vocal about the problems of the farmers, especially cane growers.

By the second term Mr Singh became a member of the Public Accounts
Committee and the Business Advisory Panel of the Assembly.

His growing popularity made him an undisputed leader in the Jan Sangh in
western Uttar Pradesh. Later, he joined Jaya Prakash Narayan's
anti-emergency movement and was held under MISA and was behind the bars for
20 months. "That time I had the opportunity of going through several books
related to Jan Sangh, history, politics, sociology, and of course, my
favourite mathematics, Hindi, Sanskrit and English literatures", he said.

After the 1977 elections, which he won by a record margin, he was inducted
as the health minister.

His another cabinet colleague was Mulayam Singh Yadav, currently his arch
rival, as the Cooperation Minister. And his first stint as a minister he
proved his skill by grearing up the department.

His efficient tackling of the brain fever menace earned him good applause.

After the fall of the Janata Party government he concentrated on the
organisational front of the party and became the State unit president of
the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1984, after the sudden death of the then
state unit chief Madhav Kant Tripathi.

Earlier, in 1980, he was the nominated state Bharatiya Janata Party general

He prepared a draft demand note for the farmers, which was accepted by the
party national executive in 1986. He again tabled another draft on
farmer-oriented issues, which later became the Bharatiya Janata Party
agricultural policy.

But his most valuable contribution is his draft on the quota issue, which
was tabled in the '85-Bhopal national executive of the Bharatiya Janata
Party and the same the reservation line of the party till date.

In fact, this made him the leader of the backward classes in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh belongs to the Lodh Rajput caste, a backward sect in Uttar Pradesh,
and his reservation policy suited them along with other OBCs, enabling the
Bharatiya Janata Party to penetrate into the OBC areas.

After this, he started active participation in the Ram temple agitation and
even wrote a book on that subject.

In the meanwhile, he was elected the State Bharatiya Janata Party chief and
later become the Opposition leader in the Assembly.

The fall of the Mulayam government in 1990 after the Ayodhya massacre came
as a gift to the Kalyan. He led the party in its lone 1991 victory and
became the chief minister.

His tenure on the chief ministerial chair saw many legislative shifts like
the like Anti-Copying Act, Kisan Vahi, Kisan Bandhu, Udyog Bandhu, Goonda
Act, anti-encroachment drive etc.

But the demolition of the Babri Mosque during his regime was a watershed in
his political career leading to his dismissal. Later he became the party
national vice-president, and even the Central leadership was in a mood to
bring him to New Delhi to encash on his backward class card.

Kalyan Singh could be the first chief minister in the country who has
already served a jail term on contempt of the court, for which he does not
much rue over. There is another side of the coin as well, the autocratic,
adamant, rude and insensitive sides.

He has many blind supporters within the Bharatiya Janata Party and outside
as well, but there is a group within the Bharatiya Janata Party rank and
file, who are really not happy with him, who say once he assumes the Chief
Minister's gaddi he loses his human character, and that he even stops
caring about his own MLAs, party workers.

Its a fact that he transferred all the BJP men along with others in his
general orders, and refused to withdraw it. Even the who appealed to him
was humiliated publicly and was asked to resign if the party was more
important than his job.

But, for the BJP at the moment Singh is the only crowd puller in UP after A
B Vajpayee, which makes him the undisputed leader of the party in the State.

Moreover, a large section of the bureaucracy is really looking forward to
welcome him due to his administrative skills.

However, only time will tell as to how good and free can be at this time,
as he was very vocal against the functioning of the Mayawati government.
But as he says, "I am a straight forward man and can not work in pressure
from others, I don't care about the chief ministership. I will function
according to my way of doing things, not by diktates." And, this is the
very fear of the party leadership as this may ruin the pact with the BSP, a
senior leader commented.

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