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In harking back to Kalyan Singh’s Rule what does Amit Shah really mean?

Teesta Setalvad 01 Nov 2016
Barely four days ago, October 27, 2016 to be precise, addressing a rally at no less a historic spot than Etawah, known for being politically savvy strongman Mulayam Singh’s home turf, BJP’s chief strategist and party president, Amit Shah took us all down memory lane. He told a public rally and through this the voters of Uttar Pradesh (the state goes to the polls in the first quarter next year) that what the state needed was ‘good governance of the kind that none less than OBC leader and once-estranged Kalyan Singh provided to the state.’  Kalyan Singh’s rule, apart from a string of encounter deaths (extra judicial killings in which Dalit and Muslims, the very poor strata in UP were targets) has been immortalised by one moment of secular India’s collective shame. The demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, as 3,000 troops of the central para-military watched (and did not intervene even as an illegal act was committed) because the state government and its administration under Kalyan Singh wilfully committed contempt of the Supreme Court and oversaw the demolition. [That the Supreme Court, too, did not grasp the emergent situation on November 30, 1992, when counsel O.P. Sharma warned that mobs (guised as 'kar sevaks') were gathering in their hundreds of thousands at Ayodhya) is also a moot point for future study of judicial efficacy. The Court appointed an observer instead of arguably, arresting events. The observer, in a sense could only watch hopelessly the demolition.]

Amit Shah and kalyan singh
Image: Indian Express

Top brass of the then major opposition party—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that had reaped rich political harvest on the campaign to build a Ram temple (that was, in fact a devious war cry to demolish a 400 year old Mosque) were present at Faizabad-Ayodhya. They watched and cheered as, on a Sunday, in full public view, the Mosque was brought down. I wonder how today’s private corporate-run television channels –Times Now, Headlines Today, Zee News, IBN etc, ETV, Aaj tak etc would have interpreted the act of demolition. As a crime against the laws of the land? Or something else?
 
For Amit Shah, the BJP’s national president, Kalyan Singh is critical to hound out criminals (?) or send them to jail. Who did he really mean? Brother of Mukhtar Afzal Ansari, SP leaders Azam Khan and Ateeq Ansari, and Naseemuddin Siddiqui (BSP), all Muslims. Clearly for Shah and the BJP crimes have a communal colour. Are there no ‘Hindus’ who are criminals? Can India or should India afford such a low level public discourse? “We have none (of these leaders). There is no place for goons in the BJP. We are a party of deshbhakts (patriots),” the BJP chief said. The BJP chief went further to squeeze political benefit from the ‘surgical strikes’ to claim for his party, the sole claim to ‘patriotism’. The rally began with the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ended with ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,’ leaving little to the scope and imagination.
 
After the Sankalp Maharally at Etawah on October 27, days before Diwali and Amit Shah’s comment. BSP supremo Mayawati was quick to criticise it even as the other pre-dominant force in the state, the Samajwadi, dismissed the remark. SP minister Rajendra Chowdhury described Shah’s comments as “childish”, claiming that after the setting up of Niti Ayog, UP had lost Rs 9,000 crore worth of central grants. “The Centre is meting out stepmotherly treatment to UP. Shah and the Prime Minister should tell what has the Centre done for the state which gave 73 MPs to the BJP (including two of the Apna Dal),” said Chowdhury.The Indian Express had reported Mayawati’s sharp riposte, “Kalyan Singh-type" good governance in Uttar Pradesh, reminding the people that the former chief minister was dismissed for "an unconstitutional act, poor law and order and contempt of court in 1992". "Amit Shah has humiliated 22 crore people of the state by promising a government similar to the one led by Kalyan Singh, who was dismissed for poor law and order and contempt of court...he needs to apologise for it," she said in a statement hours after Shahs remarks at a rally in Etawah. "Actually, the BJP has no example of good governance and its promise of a Kalyan Singh-type of government only exposes this fact...The BJP president should know that Kalyan Singh was dismissed in 1992 and Presidents Rule was imposed in the state," Mayawati recalled.

Shah’s comments come nine months after fledgling reports in January this year, that the BJP would eventually choose Kalyan Singh, twice chief minister of the state, to finally lead the party for this critical election. Currently, Kalyan Singh is Governor of Rajasthan.

After the state elections next year, UP will see its 21st government having experienced President’s Rule nine times since January 26, 1950, the first time being in 1970, for just 17 days! There have been two women chief ministers in the state, Sucheta Kripalani who was in power between 1963 and 1967 and Mayawati who has been chief minister of the state four times--in 1995 (for 137 days), in 1997 (for 184 days), in 2002 (for 1 year and 118 days) and in 2007 (4 years and 307 days. Since 2003, when the UP legislative assembly speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi’s manipulation that took 15 BSP legislators away from the ruling formation, the BSP has not allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). [That political quagmire led to Mayawati going to the Supreme Court, resulting in a three member judgement of of Chief Justice M M Punchhi, Justices K T Thomas and M Srinivasan. The government that was formed after this defection under Mulayam Singh had a tacit if not explicit support of the BJP.

Messiah of the backwards and the minorities as he was portrayed, Mulayam Singh ruled as chief minister in 1989 (for 1 year and 201 days, in 1993 after the Babri Masjid demolition (for 1 year and 181 days), in 2003 (for 3 years and 257 days) after which his party’s mantle was passed over to the present chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav who swept to power on March 15, 2012.

Until mid-1977, the Indian National Congress had uncontested sway of the state except for two spells when the redoubtable Charan Singh (Bharatiya Kranti Dal) ruled the state in 1968 and 1970. Even after the Emergency the state had two Congress ruled state governments under Vir Bahadur Singh and ND Tripathi (1988 and 1989). Since the Mandal agitation and the surge in backward politics coupled with the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the state has been lost to the grand old party. The BJP has ruled Uttar Pradesh in four stints—under Kalyan Singh in 1999 (for 2 years and 52 days), under Ramprakash Gupta between 1999-2000 (for 351 days), under Rajnath Singh in 2000 (for 1 year and 131 days) and was only accepted in this northern state after the fallout of Mandal and the play out of the divisive Ramjanmabhoomi movement. In 2014, the party made a huge dent capturing 73 of the state’s 80 parliamentary seats.

While recent opinion polls show it(BJP) to have a slight edge (September 2016), clearly the party under Shah has chosen the path of rigid polarisation to further consolidate its projected win. It remains to be seen what the impact of this will have on Uttar Pradesh’s vast 22 crore strong population that is not only diverse but has vibrant regional political options. If the politics of the Bahujan consolidation against divisiveness shows its hand in this round of elections in the state, the grip of intimidation and terror on the overall Indian polity will stand arrested. At least, temporarily.

In harking back to Kalyan Singh’s Rule what does Amit Shah really mean?

Barely four days ago, October 27, 2016 to be precise, addressing a rally at no less a historic spot than Etawah, known for being politically savvy strongman Mulayam Singh’s home turf, BJP’s chief strategist and party president, Amit Shah took us all down memory lane. He told a public rally and through this the voters of Uttar Pradesh (the state goes to the polls in the first quarter next year) that what the state needed was ‘good governance of the kind that none less than OBC leader and once-estranged Kalyan Singh provided to the state.’  Kalyan Singh’s rule, apart from a string of encounter deaths (extra judicial killings in which Dalit and Muslims, the very poor strata in UP were targets) has been immortalised by one moment of secular India’s collective shame. The demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, as 3,000 troops of the central para-military watched (and did not intervene even as an illegal act was committed) because the state government and its administration under Kalyan Singh wilfully committed contempt of the Supreme Court and oversaw the demolition. [That the Supreme Court, too, did not grasp the emergent situation on November 30, 1992, when counsel O.P. Sharma warned that mobs (guised as 'kar sevaks') were gathering in their hundreds of thousands at Ayodhya) is also a moot point for future study of judicial efficacy. The Court appointed an observer instead of arguably, arresting events. The observer, in a sense could only watch hopelessly the demolition.]

Amit Shah and kalyan singh
Image: Indian Express

Top brass of the then major opposition party—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that had reaped rich political harvest on the campaign to build a Ram temple (that was, in fact a devious war cry to demolish a 400 year old Mosque) were present at Faizabad-Ayodhya. They watched and cheered as, on a Sunday, in full public view, the Mosque was brought down. I wonder how today’s private corporate-run television channels –Times Now, Headlines Today, Zee News, IBN etc, ETV, Aaj tak etc would have interpreted the act of demolition. As a crime against the laws of the land? Or something else?
 
For Amit Shah, the BJP’s national president, Kalyan Singh is critical to hound out criminals (?) or send them to jail. Who did he really mean? Brother of Mukhtar Afzal Ansari, SP leaders Azam Khan and Ateeq Ansari, and Naseemuddin Siddiqui (BSP), all Muslims. Clearly for Shah and the BJP crimes have a communal colour. Are there no ‘Hindus’ who are criminals? Can India or should India afford such a low level public discourse? “We have none (of these leaders). There is no place for goons in the BJP. We are a party of deshbhakts (patriots),” the BJP chief said. The BJP chief went further to squeeze political benefit from the ‘surgical strikes’ to claim for his party, the sole claim to ‘patriotism’. The rally began with the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ended with ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,’ leaving little to the scope and imagination.
 
After the Sankalp Maharally at Etawah on October 27, days before Diwali and Amit Shah’s comment. BSP supremo Mayawati was quick to criticise it even as the other pre-dominant force in the state, the Samajwadi, dismissed the remark. SP minister Rajendra Chowdhury described Shah’s comments as “childish”, claiming that after the setting up of Niti Ayog, UP had lost Rs 9,000 crore worth of central grants. “The Centre is meting out stepmotherly treatment to UP. Shah and the Prime Minister should tell what has the Centre done for the state which gave 73 MPs to the BJP (including two of the Apna Dal),” said Chowdhury.The Indian Express had reported Mayawati’s sharp riposte, “Kalyan Singh-type" good governance in Uttar Pradesh, reminding the people that the former chief minister was dismissed for "an unconstitutional act, poor law and order and contempt of court in 1992". "Amit Shah has humiliated 22 crore people of the state by promising a government similar to the one led by Kalyan Singh, who was dismissed for poor law and order and contempt of court...he needs to apologise for it," she said in a statement hours after Shahs remarks at a rally in Etawah. "Actually, the BJP has no example of good governance and its promise of a Kalyan Singh-type of government only exposes this fact...The BJP president should know that Kalyan Singh was dismissed in 1992 and Presidents Rule was imposed in the state," Mayawati recalled.

Shah’s comments come nine months after fledgling reports in January this year, that the BJP would eventually choose Kalyan Singh, twice chief minister of the state, to finally lead the party for this critical election. Currently, Kalyan Singh is Governor of Rajasthan.

After the state elections next year, UP will see its 21st government having experienced President’s Rule nine times since January 26, 1950, the first time being in 1970, for just 17 days! There have been two women chief ministers in the state, Sucheta Kripalani who was in power between 1963 and 1967 and Mayawati who has been chief minister of the state four times--in 1995 (for 137 days), in 1997 (for 184 days), in 2002 (for 1 year and 118 days) and in 2007 (4 years and 307 days. Since 2003, when the UP legislative assembly speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi’s manipulation that took 15 BSP legislators away from the ruling formation, the BSP has not allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). [That political quagmire led to Mayawati going to the Supreme Court, resulting in a three member judgement of of Chief Justice M M Punchhi, Justices K T Thomas and M Srinivasan. The government that was formed after this defection under Mulayam Singh had a tacit if not explicit support of the BJP.

Messiah of the backwards and the minorities as he was portrayed, Mulayam Singh ruled as chief minister in 1989 (for 1 year and 201 days, in 1993 after the Babri Masjid demolition (for 1 year and 181 days), in 2003 (for 3 years and 257 days) after which his party’s mantle was passed over to the present chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav who swept to power on March 15, 2012.

Until mid-1977, the Indian National Congress had uncontested sway of the state except for two spells when the redoubtable Charan Singh (Bharatiya Kranti Dal) ruled the state in 1968 and 1970. Even after the Emergency the state had two Congress ruled state governments under Vir Bahadur Singh and ND Tripathi (1988 and 1989). Since the Mandal agitation and the surge in backward politics coupled with the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the state has been lost to the grand old party. The BJP has ruled Uttar Pradesh in four stints—under Kalyan Singh in 1999 (for 2 years and 52 days), under Ramprakash Gupta between 1999-2000 (for 351 days), under Rajnath Singh in 2000 (for 1 year and 131 days) and was only accepted in this northern state after the fallout of Mandal and the play out of the divisive Ramjanmabhoomi movement. In 2014, the party made a huge dent capturing 73 of the state’s 80 parliamentary seats.

While recent opinion polls show it(BJP) to have a slight edge (September 2016), clearly the party under Shah has chosen the path of rigid polarisation to further consolidate its projected win. It remains to be seen what the impact of this will have on Uttar Pradesh’s vast 22 crore strong population that is not only diverse but has vibrant regional political options. If the politics of the Bahujan consolidation against divisiveness shows its hand in this round of elections in the state, the grip of intimidation and terror on the overall Indian polity will stand arrested. At least, temporarily.

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