Kalyan Singh, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and governor of Rajasthan, breathed his last on Saturday, 21 August, in Lucknow. He was 89.
Born in 1932 in Atrauli – a small town 25 km from Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh – Kalyan Singh served several terms as an MLA from Atrauli. Through the course of his political career, he also went on to serve two terms as the chief minister of his state, and was also appointed the governor of Rajasthan.
‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’
Many right-wing commentators on Twitter have referred to Kalyan Singh as a “Hindu Hriday Samrat” (emperor of Hindu hearts).
Following his demise, PM Narendra Modi took to Twitter to talk about how "generations to come will remain forever grateful to Kalyan Singh Ji."
"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."Prime Minister Narendra Modi
A three-day state mourning has been announced in Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of Kalyan Singh’s demise.
When he was admitted in the ICU of a Lucknow hospital earlier in July, multiple BJP leaders including UP CM Yogi Adityanath and party chief JP Nadda paid him a visit.
While Kalyan Singh is remembered for his illustrious political career, he is also prominently known for his role in the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Babri Masjid Demolition: Kalyan Singh’s Purported Role
Kalyan Singh’s first term as the chief minister of UP began in June 1991. A year later, the Babri Masjid was demolished. Singh’s government was promptly dismissed and the state was place under President’s rule.
The demolition was a violent affair, followed by months of inter-communal riots that altogether resulted in approximately 2,000 reported deaths.
A 2009 report, by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, which had been commissioned by the Government of India to probe the demolition, criticised Singh for his purported role. The report identified the Kalyan Singh-led BJP government as key to the execution of the demolition, as per The Times of India.
Claiming that since its inception, the government had set out to implement the demolition, the report alleged that Singh posted bureaucrats and police officers in Ayodhya whose record reflected they would remain quiet about the demolition.
A CBI court, however, in September 2020, acquitted Kalyan Singh and 31 others accused in the case.
Meanwhile, Singh, in an August 2020 interview to Hindustan Times, had said that he was proud he had not permitted firing on the thousands of kar sevaks who had assembled in Ayodhya before going on to demolish the mosque. He also said:
“Maybe it was destined that the dhaancha (structure) would be demolished with me as chief minister. Had there been no demolition, probably the courts too would have ordered status quo. So, in a sense, it was the demolition that actually has paved the way for the 5 August bhoomi pujan and naturally, I am elated.”
Highlights of Kalyan Singh’s Political Career
Through the course of a career spanning decades, Singh donned multiple hats, even switching party loyalties and lending tacit support to the Samajwadi Party for a brief spell in 2009.
The top highlights from Kalyan Singh’s time, within the chassis of Indian politics, are:
1991: First term as chief minister of UP begins
1997: Second term as chief minister of UP begins
2009: Elected to the Lok Sabha
2014: Takes charge as the 21st governor of Rajasthan
2015: Appointed governor of Himachal Pradesh (additional charge) for a brief spell of approximately seven months.
Kalyan Singh is survived by his wife Ramwati Devi, daughter Prabha Verma, and son Rajveer Singh. In 2020, he had told Hindustan Times that it was his wish to be alive till the construction of Ram Temple is complete and then take rebirth in Ayodhya.