Lucknow/New Delhi: Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and BJP veteran Kalyan Singh, who was ailing for some time, died at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) in Lucknow on Saturday night. He was 89.
Tributes poured in for the prominent backward caste leader with Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing the two-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s “indelible contribution” towards the development of the state and the “cultural regeneration” of India.
Singh, who also served as the Rajasthan governor, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the SGPGI in a critical condition on July 4.
He died due to sepsis and multi-organ failure, the hospital said.
Uttar Pradesh has announced a three-day mourning and a holiday on Monday, when the former chief minister’s last rites will be performed.
Singh was the Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the Babri mosque was demolished by a mob of “karsevaks” in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. Along with BJP veterans L K Advani and M M Joshi, he was among the 32 people acquitted in the demolition case in September last year.
A Lodhi leader, Singh was instrumental in the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s.
He is survived by his wife Ramvati Devi, son Rajveer Singh, who is the Lok Sabha MP from Etah, and grandson Sandeep Singh, who is the minister of state for finance, technical education, medical education in Uttar Pradesh.
The prime minister spoke to the veteran BJP leader’s son and conveyed his condolence.
“I am saddened beyond words. Kalyan Singh Ji… statesman, veteran administrator, grassroots level leader and great human. He leaves behind an indelible contribution towards the development of Uttar Pradesh. Spoke to his son Shri Rajveer Singh and expressed condolences. Om Shanti,” he said in a tweet.
“Generations to come will remain forever grateful to Kalyan Singh Ji for his contributions towards India’s cultural regeneration. He was firmly rooted in Indian values and took pride in our centuries-old traditions.
“Kalyan Singh Ji gave voice to crores of people belonging to the marginalised sections of society. He made numerous efforts towards the empowerment of farmers, youngsters and women,” he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind condoled Singh’s demise, saying he had a “magical connect” with the masses.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu described Singh as a nationalist and an exemplary leader.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Singh was synonymous with transparency and public service and described his demise as an “irreparable loss” for the society and the BJP.
Speaking to reporters at the SGPGI, he said, “Kalyan Singhji is no more. He was ailing for the past two months and was undergoing treatment. At around 9.15 pm, he breathed his last. All of us feel sad. As the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and a mass leader, he showed transparency and firmness in administration.”
Adityanath said Singh’s mortal remains will be kept at his residence in Lucknow, at the Vidhan Bhavan and then at the BJP office, so that people can pay their tributes.
On Sunday evening, the body will be taken to Aligarh, where it will be kept in the stadium. On Monday morning, the body of the departed leader will be taken to Atrauli — his “karmabhoomi” and “janmabhoomi”. The last rites will be performed with full state honours in Narora on Monday afternoon, the chief minister said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Singh had dedicated his life to the nation, religion and people.
“The country and the entire BJP family are mourning his death. This nation and future generations will always be indebted for his immense contribution,” he said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Kalyan Singh was a very popular chief minister of Uttar Pradesh who left an indelible mark on politics.
Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Keshav Prasad Maurya said he feels sad over the demise of “babuji” as he used to get fatherly love from the veteran leader.
People associated with the Ram temple movement, including Champat Rai, Vinay Katiyar and Ramvilas Vedanti, expressed condolence over Kalyan Singh’s demise.
Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu and spokesperson of the party’s state unit Ashok Singh also condoled the death of the veteran BJP leader.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati expressed grief over Singh’s demise.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav also paid tributes to the departed BJP leader in a tweet.
Born on January 5, 1932, Singh first became an MLA in 1967. Since then, he won the Assembly polls several times, held important posts in the BJP and was appointed the governor of Rajasthan in the last phase of his public life.
In 1991, Singh became the first BJP chief minister of the country’s most populous state. A little over a year later, the Babri Masjid was demolished as the Sangh Parivar campaign to build a Ram temple at the same spot picked momentum, following which he resigned.
He got his second shot at the top post in September 1997, becoming chief minister again under a six-month rotation formula with the BSP. The arrangement collapsed soon with the BSP withdrawing support.