I Am A Hindu From Southern India; Here's How I Saw Kalyan Singh
Kalyan Singh was Uttar Pradesh chief minister at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, but he was influencing young minds beyond the Hindi-speaking states as well.
6 December 1992 was a Sunday. By evening that day, entire India was agitated. There was both jubilation and anxiety, anger and trauma. Everyone was blaming everyone else.
Then, a video became popular and viral, by the standards of the early ‘90s.
It was of Kalyan Singh, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on that fateful day. He appeared before a crowd of Ram bhaktas and in the full light of the media, made a statement.
The leader, who was then known only within the confines of Uttar Pradesh, became on that day the hero of an entire generation of awakened and political Hindus.
The video was in Hindi, but it needed neither subtitles nor translation.
I do not know Hindi. But I understand it thus:
"I will not shoot bullets, will not shoot bullets, will not shoot bullets at Kar Sevaks... Not the bureaucrats, not the police officers … no, not anyone… I take the full responsibility of what happened".
FIR No. 198 filed that year had the name of Kalyan Singh along with other BJP leaders.
Later, there were many political developments. He left the BJP and came back. More than once. But all of that does not matter today. With those words that he spoke, he imprinted himself in our hearts forever — perhaps in the hearts of all Hindus in generations to come.
We remember how his government battled all odds and stood for the construction of the temple at Ram Janmabhoomi.
We remember how he led the process to acquire the land around the occupied temple. We remember how he pleaded with the Islamists, that once the land of Janma-sthana is handed over to the Hindus for the construction of the temple, he would himself carry the bricks for the mosque to be built on the other side of Sarayu, on his head.
It is to the credit of the BJP and Sangh Parivar that it could generate such leaders and bring them to the national limelight in a sustained manner. Kalyan Singh was virtually an unknown name beyond Uttar Pradesh. From a humble village background, he emerged as an RSS worker and a teacher.
He was in jail for 21 months during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
After the Ayodhya massacre by Mulayam Singh, riding on the Ram wave, the BJP won Uttar Pradesh. Kalyan Singh became the chief minister. At that time, as every BJP chief minister was observed keenly, Kalyan Singh also was being observed closely by the press.
Between 24 June 1991 to 6 December 1992, Kalyan Singh proved that he was an able administrator as well. The nation outside UP read with interest the anti-copying law that Kalyan Singh government brought.
Present day Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was his education minister. The effect of the anti-copying law was dramatic. The High School Board examination pass percentage dropped from 58 to 14 per cent. Such was the rot that had crept inside the education system.
Later, another defining moment came for national politics when on 3 June 1995, Mayawati, a woman leader belonging to the Jatav Dalit community, became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. It was with the support of the BJP, which had been accused of ‘Brahminism’ and ‘Manuvad’.
The significance of this event, irrespective of the future relations between BJP and BSP, is as much for the Hindu society as was the demolition of the disputed structure and the subsequent building of the Sri Rama Mandir.
Kalyan Singh again showed political maturity and in an act that signified larger Hindu social unity, supported Mayawati's government.
Thus, in both, the brave acceptance of responsibility for what happened in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 and in helping create new socio-political possibilities in how he engaged with Kanshi Ram's BSP, he showed how a leader should conduct himself at times of challenges.
Today, Hindutva is vibrant and stronger because of leaders like Kalyan Singh.
A solider for the cause, Kalyan Singh was a general who took the responsibility for all the outcomes of the battle he was leading. He displayed steely resolve when he refused to shoot the karsevaks.
He displayed compassion when he offered to carry bricks for a proposed mosque on his head. He showed integrity and courage when he owned up responsibility for the demolition in Ayodhya solely on himself.
He showed a holistic understanding of Hindu society’s welfare over and above his own politics when he and his legislators supported Mayawati as the CM.
He was, and shall always remain, a hero for every generation of Hindutva oriented Hindus since 1992, for showing all these qualities.
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