Express News Service

LUCKNOW: Set to name roads, medical institutions and even an airport after BJP stalwart Kalyan Singh as well as taking out an Asthi Kalash Yatra of the late leader who proceeded on his heavenly abode on August 21, the BJP is out to play up the legacy of the leader who beguilingly blended a strong Hindutva narrative with OBC politics in the state.

That is the importance of being Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh which is set for Assembly elections early next year. Kalyan Singh is considered to be the tallest OBC leader in the state who stormed to fame with the temple movement and was bestowed the moniker of ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ till he lived. Under his first regime, the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya took place on December 6, 1992. Following the demolition, he resigned flashing the victory sign and claiming that he had fulfilled his promise to Ram devotees.

Political pundits believe that both the Yogi Adityanath government and the state BJP unit are going the whole hog to unveil various initiatives to capitalise on Kalyan’s twin OBC-Hindutva connect ahead of the 2022 UP polls.

CM Yogi Adityanath took everything under his own control—right from receiving the mortal remains of Kalyan Singh at SGPGIMS on the night of August 21 to escorting it for the last rites at Bansi Ghat in Narora on August 23 evening. Moreover, the BJP’s top leadership at the Centre and in the state led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself and including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP national chief JP Nadda paid glowing tributes to the departed leader who, despite his brief association with the rival Samajwadi Party, was an ‘RSS favourite’.

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“The party has done everything to make the stature of Kalyan Singh amply clear to the people of Uttar Pradesh. His demise has not only reignited the Hindutva sentiment reviving the memories of 1992 among the BJP supporters but also his attributes as the OBC leader may come in handy to the BJP’s benefit in the 2022 UP polls,” says Prof AK Mishra, a political scientist.

A proposal to name Aligarh airport after the late leader could be put up before Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet and the party is planning an elaborate ‘Asthi Kalash’ Yatra (a journey with urns containing ashes of the departed soul) across the state.

As per party sources, while part of the ashes of the late leader was immersed in the Ganga in Narora by the family on Friday, preparations were on to immerse the rest of the ashes in major rivers of UP, including Ganga in Varanasi and Saryu in Ayodhya.

Moreover, Shraddhanjali Sabhas (memorial meetings) are being organised across the state. The first one was held in the temple town of Ayodhya by saints and seers to pay tribute to Kalyan Singh on Thursday.

“Numerically, OBCs make the biggest chunk of the voting population in UP. So, the BJP is trying hard to connect with OBCs in the name of Kalyan who belonged to the Lodh sub-caste of OBCs,” said Prof Mishra.

The BJP has only recently promoted young Rajya Sabha MP BL Verma, a protégé of Kalyan, as a Union minister of state who is likely to be entrusted with carrying out one of the seven ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatras’ in the state.

After the cremation of the party stalwart on Monday, the BJP’s OBC leaders targeted Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, also an OBC, for not visiting to pay tributes to one of the tallest OBC leaders in the state.

While Akhilesh had tweeted his condolences on the demise of Kalyan Singh, BSP chief Mayawati had visited the Mall Avenue residence of Kalyan Singh’s grandson Sandip to pay her last respects to the departed soul.