'Hindutva is nobody's monopoly'

Published : Dec 25, 2000 00:00 IST

Interview with Kalyan Singh.

Kalyan Singh was once the epitome of the Bharatiya Janata Party's winning combination of 'Mandal and Kamandal' politics, the former representing social justice and the latter, Hindutva. In fact this combination was considered to be his forte. Afte r becoming anathema to the top leadership of the BJP, Kalyan Singh confused his supporters by alternating between 'Mandal and kamandal'. However, after his expulsion from the party he has appeared to be moving closer to Mandal. One of the main demands of his Rashtriya Kranti Party (RKP) is the extension of reservation of jobs to more communities and also the poor among the upper castes. Venkitesh Ramakrishnan met Kalyan Singh during the former Chief Minister's first visit to New Delhi after his e xpulsion from the party and spoke to him on a variety of issues, particularly on the perception that he has given up the politics of Hindutva. Excerpts:

Even after your suspension from the BJP you maintained that you would retain your ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other organisations of the Sangh Parivar. You also said that Hindutva would continue to be one of your guiding philos ophies. However, a day after you were expelled from the party, you changed tack and said that you would no longer associate yourself with the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. What brought about this turnaround?

The decision to disassociate myself from the RSS and the VHP was not taken on my own. I wanted to retain my links with them. However, they decided to disown me. Meetings were organised all over Uttar Pradesh to warn RSS and VHP volunteers to keep away fr om me. In such a situation, there was no point in keeping a one-sided commitment.

So, have you given up your perception of Hindutva as a guiding philosophy in your personal and political lives and also your aggressive position on building a Ram temple at Ayodhya?

You are reading too much into the simple act of disassociating myself from the two organisations. Hindutva is not the monopoly of any organisation or individual. Similarly, all Ram bhakts want a mandir constructed at Ayodhya. However, I do not plan to do anything in haste to advance the mandir agenda, especially since the VHP has done a lot of work on that. The leaders of the VHP and the sant-mahant samaj should not feel that I am stepping into their territory.

Hardly a month ago you spoke a different language. Even on the day the BJP high command summoned you to New Delhi you proceeded to Ayodhya and castigated Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for giving up the Ayodhya issue. There is a perception that y ou changed tack because you could not muster enough support.

You are free to have your perception. I am following my own path. And, as I have repeated many times, this path is of advancing social engineering, ensuring social justice to the oppressed sections and Dalits, and disseminating real Hindutva, which is be yond discrimination of any kind. The BJP did represent these values at one point of time. But under the power-oriented politics followed by Vajpayee, the party is losing all that. The only concern of Vajpayee now is to cling to power somehow.

So, broadly, would these be the main slogans of your new party?

These and many more. I am getting enthusiastic support from all parts of North India.

Still, you do not seem have much support from the BJP legislators in Uttar Pradesh. At one point you had claimed that you had the support of over 100 MLAs.

I have asked my supporters to remain calm for the time being. You will see an upsurge from the legislature party at the right time. In any case, my primary concern is not to bring down the government but run a mass movement on the issues I highlighted ea rlier.

You had claimed that you were in touch with leaders such as Sahib Singh Verma and Madan Lal Khurana, who are not happy with the present direction of the party. They have refused to meet you now.

This is because of the pressure from the Prime Minister. The "No Alternative" factor is exploited by Vajpayee to keep these leaders under check. In between, the Prime Minister and his associates rake up one issue or the other to embarrass these leaders, just as the Babri Masjid demolition case has been raked up now to embarrass Advaniji and others. The manner in which Vajpayee is mounting pressure, Advaniji could be slowly and steadily pushed out of the party. Notwithstanding Advaniji's own protestation s to the contrary, I see this threat looming large. He should chart out ways and means against this right now.

There is also the perception that ultimately you would join hands with Other Backward Classes leaders such as Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav.

Assertions of the rights and needs of the backward castes and Dalits as represented by the politics of backward caste leaders form an important constituent of the Indian polity. It would be good if a common ground can be found between the practitioners o f this politics. However, as of now, I have not decided to align myself with anybody. I am working on the premise that my party would contest all the 425 seats in the U.P. Assembly elections. My immediate task is to expose the wrong deeds of the BJP lead ership, particularly of the Prime Minister, and generate public opinion against it.

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