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Ayodhya, BJP and CBI: Kalyan Singh is Back in a ‘Win-Win’ Game

CBI Notice against Kalyan Singh makes him relevant once again as nation awaits the SC verdict on Ayodhya case.  

Published
Opinion
6 min read
At the end of the day, Kalyan Singh may steal the Ayodhya thunder.
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Kalyan Singh surprised all and sundry by staging a return to mainstream politics of his parent political outfit—Bhartiya Janata Party—after doing a full-term on the gubernatorial position of Rajasthan Governor.

Surely, it is not a very natural step to be taken by any former Governor  running in his mid-eighties. There have been Governors like Arjun Singh and Moti Lal Vora who rolled back into mainstream politics after doing their stints in high constitutional offices, but they were surely much younger at that point of time as compared to Kalyan Singh. Ram Naik, too, decided to return to the party fold barely two months back after stepping down from the office of UP governor. But, even he was two years younger to Kalyan.

Retiring at the age of 87, Kalyan was least expected to take a plunge into active politics. But the fact that he did so makes it evident that he definitely has a purpose behind the move.

The fact that CBI notice was issued within 48 hours of his relinquishing the Governor’s office also does not appear to be without a design.
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Aptly Timed CBI Notice to Kalyan Singh

Party insiders see this as his strategy to keep himself in the spotlight. And what has come as a shot in the arm is the CBI notice for his personal presence before the special court that is hearing the Babri Masjid demolition case. Kalyan’s name figures  among the alleged  key conspirators behind the demolition . BJP bigwigs—Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti—were also in the list, facing the demolition charge since 1993 when two special courts were set up in Lucknow and in Rae Bareli.

The fact that CBI notice was issued within 48 hours of his relinquishing the Governor’s office also does not appear to be without a design. Surely , CBI is not known to always act that promptly and with such efficiency as has been made out in this case. Obviously, there is much more to it than meets the eye.

Knowing that the Ayodhya case was now close to reaching its logical conclusion , playing up the victim card would not only enhance his own profile but was also bound to boost the temple campaign.

The move surely kills several birds with one stone. Apart from giving the impression that CBI is not a “caged parrot” and that it functions independently, the move adds a new dimension to the Ayodhya temple case that was in the final stages of hearing before the Supreme Court.

<i>(From left)</i> Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, LK Advani and Uma Bharti wave at the crowd at a public meeting after appearing in a special court in connection with the demolition of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid, in Rae Bareilly, on 28 July, 2005.
(From left) Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, LK Advani and Uma Bharti wave at the crowd at a public meeting after appearing in a special court in connection with the demolition of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid, in Rae Bareilly, on 28 July, 2005.
(Photo: PTI)

Kalyan Singh’s Ayodhya History

Having been hailed as “hero” of the Ayodhya temple movement particularly since the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 2, 1992—during his stint as UP chief minister—Kalyan Singh has always enjoyed a larger than life image of a Hindutva icon. He not only chose to take the sole responsibility for the demolition but also abdicated the chief minister’s office on that account.

Knowing that the Ayodhya case was now close to reaching its logical conclusion , playing up the victim card would not only enhance his own profile but was also bound to boost the temple campaign. This is likely to add up to the fervor already very systematically built by the BJP and his Hindutva front-runners.

Anyone who has seen the octogenarian BJP leader through the decades would know that he was not the types who would undertake any move without a purpose. He witnessed a couple of ups and downs in his political career but undaunted by the odds he always steered his way back to the centre-stage.

It was clearly his uncalled for belligerence against party stalwart Atal Behari Vajpayee that led to his expulsion from the party.

Even as he touched the zenith of his career in 1992—when he emerged as the martyred hero of the Babri demolition—he failed to lead the party to a clear victory in the next state assembly poll that was held in November 1993. What followed was a Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party coalition under the leadership of Mulayam Singh Yadav, which failed to last beyond 1995. It sparked off more political turmoil out of which Kalyan Singh once again emerged as a winner and rode on to the chief minister’s chair for the second time in 1997.

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BJP’s Love-Hate Relationship With Kalyan Singh

His controversial association with small-time party functionary Kusum Rai aborted his continuance in office and he was compelled to step down in 1999.

It was clearly his uncalled for belligerence against party stalwart Atal Behari Vajpayee that led to his fall from grace and provoked the party leadership to take the unpleasant decision of his expulsion from the party.

But he did not give up and dared the BJP by forming his own political outfit – Rashtriya Kranti Party .  What followed was beyond everyone’s comprehension – he struck chord with his biggest sworn political foe, Mulayam Singh Yadav. The two leaders had been poles apart — Mulayam , who  did not think twice before ordering firing on violent karsewaks who sought to storm the Babri Masjid in 1990 — and  Kalyan , who became better known as the man behind the demolition of the same medieval mosque two years later in 1992.

The alliance was struck in the hope of forming a new OBC axis . Kalyan went to the extent of campaigning for the Samajwadi Party and so did the SP chief reciprocate . Mulayam had already taken on board Kalyan’s son Rajvir Singh as well as Kusum Rai in his cabinet.

 Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Mulayam Singh Yadav.
(Photo: PTI)

However, soon realization dawned on both the regional OBC satraps that their marriage of convenience was proving to be detrimental to the health of both sides. If Mulayam was losing much of his crucial support of Muslims, Kalyan had not succeeded beyond making a small dent in the BJP vote bank of OBCs. After all Kalyan was the most prominent OBC face in the party.

‘Win-Win’ Situation for Both BJP and Kalyan Singh

Just as Kalyan was still trying to figure out his bearings, Pramod Mahajan, who was Vajpayee’s troubleshooter in those days, tapped him. Eventually a deal was struck and Kalyan was ushered back into the BJP fold in 2004 as the national vice president of the party. He promptly expressed remorse for his earlier anti-BJP acts and made amends to once again hail Atal Behari Vajpayee as his icon.

For ten years he was assigned different jobs in the party and chose to carry out his tasks with utmost commitment and without a fuss. No wonder, he was rewarded with the governorship of an important state like Rajasthan shortly after Narendra Modi led the BJP to power in 2014. Left to him, Kalyan would have preferred mainstream politics, but with Modi prescribing an upper age limit of 75 for all mainstream jobs, he had to remain content with whatever he was offered.

After all, he had already managed a party ticket for his son and a berth in the Yogi Adityanath council of ministers for his grandson Sandeep.

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Even as he is heading to turn 88 in the next four months, his spirits are still high, amply reflected in the manner he is out to vociferously bring his Ayodhya agenda back to the fore. He surely does not have anything to lose. But he could surely make some gains—either for his son who remains a just Lok Sabha member, or more so for his grandson, who is known to be even dearer to him.

At the end of the day, he may steal the Ayodhya thunder. So what? The ultimate gainer would be BJP; and the biggest beneficiary, none other than prime minister Narendra Modi.

(The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst based in Lucknow. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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