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Next Stop, Mandal?

Kalyan leaves Ayodhya and doesn’t even leave his slippers behind

Next Stop, Mandal?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

PRODIGAL children have often been known to create history. And it’s former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, who seems to have been chosen to re-affirm this almost original truth in our times. Though his alma mater, the BJP,  would have everyone believe that its decision to expel Kalyan would relegate him to the margins of history, that, unfortunately (for the saffron outfit) may not quite be the case.

In fact, the decision has placed Kalyan in a position where he is free to wreak damage on the party he had nurtured in Uttar Pradesh. His tactical about-turn which consists of the former CM abandoning the Ayodhya issue— days after he had used the site in a symbolic snub to pro-claim rebellion against the BJP— indicates that he is hell-bent on giving the saff ron party a difficult time. The only problem is that once out of the party, he stands isolated.

However, when the letter of expulsion reached him on December 9, Kalyan Singh was typically blunt: "The BJP has signed its own suicide note by expelling me." Subsequently, at a press conference, he spewed vitriol, full and dark, directly at Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and said, "History will describe Atalji as an individual who for the sake of his own ego razed the B J P to the ground."

And though he says he will do nothing to destabilise the Ram Prakash Gupta-led government in the state—" it will crash on its own"— he does have some concrete plans. The former CM said that he had decided upon the the framework of his new party, which, according to him will be Hindutva defined as

"Sarva dharma sambhav a". It will, thus, also stand for the minorities— besides his much-touted backward base. For the time being, he has trained his guns on neighbouring Bihar and he intends to tour the state to ensure that "the BJP gets a crushing defeat" there in the forthcoming assembly elections. As for UP, he plans to contest all the 425 assembly seats and claims that the BJP will not get more than 40-43 seats.

But breaking the BJP’s back will not be easy. In the three weeks that have lapsed since his suspension from the party, he stands isola-ted and the number of his loyalists is visibly waning ever since he returned from Delhi on November 27. Corporator Kusum Rai is perhaps the only one left.

Even the allies, whom he had lured to form a government, seem to have no love lost for him. Says energy minister and Loktantrik Congress Party (LCP) chief Naresh Agarwal, who had earlier tried in vain to use the Kalyan factor to blackmail Gupta: "We  are here for stability of the present government and not any single individual."

Uncertainty now lurks in the precincts of Kalyan’s official residence on 2, Mall Avenue. With the passing of each day, few vehicles of BJP leaders or legislators go beyond the open gates. And those who make the rounds at all either have their cars’ tinted glasses rolled up or do so after sunset. But Ram Kumar Shukla, president of the UP Consumers Federation and a Kalyan supporter, says that the ousted chief minister’s MLAs are only waiting in  the wings and will come forward at the opportune time. Says he: "It is Kalyan who has pleaded with them to stay put for sometime. Once he announces his party, all will be taken by surprise at the exodus from the present state government." The former chief minister is expected to formally float his new party in 10 days’ time. But Kalyan’s detractors scoff at such suggestions. Says BJP MLC Rajesh Pandey: "He is still living in a fool’s paradise. The sooner he wakes up, the better it will be for him."

Kalyan, however, believes that the BJP of the past is no more. According to him, not only has the party forgotten its ideologies but has also lost touch with the masses. While the party high command in Delhi feels Kalyan is overestimating himself, he remains confident: "I have the support of the masses, what more do I need?" BJP’s general secretary K.N. Govindacharya re buts , "Kalyan Singh is under an illusion. I have been interacting with men at the district level. They are all with us."

The possibility of Kalyan Singh and the Samajwadi Party coming together seems a tricky affair at the moment— complicated as it is by Kalyan’s on-off dalliance with Ayodhya. Says SP state president Ram Saran Das: "Our ideologies are poles apart. It’ll be foolish to induct a Ram bhakt." The rebellious Sakshi Maharaj, however, hopes: "God willing these two political heroes will join hands, then India will truly be united from Kashmir to Kanyakumari." As of now, the removal of the hero called Kalyan has not even created ripples, leave alone a storm . The former chief minister has a long haul ahead— he is yet to emerge from his isolation, and there’s no halo in sight.

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