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How Kalyan Singh united non-Yadav OBCs in BJP’s favour

Author: Rajiv Srivastava
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 22, 2021
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/kalyan-formula-how-he-united-non-yadav-obcs-in-bjps-favour/articleshow/85526459.cms

In 1989, the National Front government, led by then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, implemented the recommendations of the Mandal Commission report. The move triggered nationwide protests.

Amid such a volatile situation, BJP leader Kalyan Singh once visited the RSS office in Model House in Lucknow.

Coincidently, the then sah sar karyavah Murlidhar Dattatreya Deoras, popularly known as Bhaurao Deoras, was also present on the first floor of the building.

Coming to know about Bhaurao’s presence, Kalyan sent a messenger seeking an appointment. Bhaurao immediately called him upstairs.

During the meeting, Kalyan expressed concern over the caste divide on the issue of reservation but Bhaurao asked him not to worry and exhorted him to start touring the state with the aim to unite the people as Hindus. “The more intense the Ram Temple movement gets, the lesser would be the implications of the Mandal report implementation,” he believed to have told Kalyan.

A true ‘swayamsewak’ that Kalyan was, he immediately embarked on a whirlwind tour of the state.

It was during Kalyan’s visit to Prayagraj (then Allahabad) that he was arrested on the way, thus becoming the first BJP leader to be taken into custody for leading the Ram Temple movement in the state.

Before the touring spree, Kalyan was just another Lodh leader in the BJP, taking on other backward caste politician, Mulayam SinghYadav, who was then with the Janata Dal.

While leading the Ram Temple movement, Kalyan united several smaller OBC castes like Binds, Mallahs and Kashyaps and emerged as a strong OBC leader and the BJP’s poster boy of Hindutva.

Not that he was the only OBC leader in the BJP at that time but the fact that he followed the Sangh functionary’s directives in letter and spirit, he was able to unite several smaller non-Yadav OBC castes. All these castes added up to around 16-17% of the OBC population, much more than any single OBC caste, be it Yadavs or Kurmis.

His public addresses mainly focussed on uniting every caste for the sake of the country and in the name of Lord Ram. The message worked for him and Kalyan became the leader of 16-17% OBCs. In doing so, he emerged as the Hindutva poster boy and sole leader of the Ram Temple movement in the state.

Prior to this, Kalyan was appointed the UP BJP president after the death of Madhav Prasad Tripathi, the founder state chief of the party. “However, Kalyan was known as a Lodh leader at that time,” said Rajendra Tiwari, the man who was the state secretary during his tenure.

BJP had a poor presence in Uttar Pradesh assembly with only 11 MLAs in 1980, 16 in 1985 and 57 in 1989. However, he had already earned the sobriquet of a tough administrator when he became the health minister during the Janata Party government in the state in 1977.

That was the time when doctors posted in Lucknow hardly got transferred to any other place. Singh, as health minister, transferred famous cardiologist Dr SC Rai to Kanpur from Lucknow.

Despite requests from Nanaji Deshmukh and Rajendra Singh aka Rajju Bhaiyya, he declined to stay Dr Rai’s transfer. Dr Rai was forced to complete one season in Kanpur before coming back to Lucknow. After his retirement, Dr Rai got elected as Lucknow Mayor on a BJP ticket.

It was Kalyan’s image that made him a leader with a difference and this paved the way for him to become the state BJP chief in 1984.

“Kalyan had started establishing himself as an OBC leader in 1986 and had emerged as one of the main leaders who took on Mulayam SinghYadav,” said senior journalist Brijesh Shukla.

“After the Ram Temple movement began, he became the Sangh parivar’s mascot of Hindutva. Kalyan’s Hindutva was incomplete without social justice,” Shukla said.

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