New Delhi: Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh rejoined the Bharatiya Janata Party on September 10, opening himself for a trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Singh has finished his five-year tenure as Rajasthan governor, which granted him constitutional immunity from facing trial in civil and criminal cases.
Soon after senior Uttar Pradesh leader Kalraj Mishra was sworn in as the new Rajasthan governor, Singh accepted the saffron party’s membership in presence of Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swantatra Dev Singh, his son Rajveer Singh, currently the Lok Sabha MP from Etah, and grandson Sandeep Singh, who is now the minister of state for finance in UP.
Within hours, the Central Bureau of Investigation moved a special court, seeking permission to summon Kalyan Singh to stand trial in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.
The Supreme Court in April 2017 had ordered that criminal conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and 16 others be revived. However, it also said that Kalyan Singh could not be brought in as an accused as he enjoyed immunity under Article 361 of the constitution. The apex court had told the CBI that prosecution could start against him only when he ceases to be a governor.
The CBI chargesheet alleged that then chief minister Kalyan Singh allowed the demolition despite having assured the National Integration Council that it would not be allowed. The Supreme Court had only permitted a symbolic “kar sewa” at the site but it was eventually demolished by scores of Hindutva activists. Singh is also accused of not deploying enough central forces to prevent the demolition.
A special CBI judge in 1997 had said that Singh acted contrary to his assurances and prima facie found him as having participated in the criminal conspiracy. Singh, however, pleaded not guilty and stepped down from the position of chief minister after the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992.
Upon rejoining active politics, Singh told reporters in Lucknow that he won’t be contesting elections anymore but quitting politics would have meant quitting public service for him.
But political analysts believe that Singh’s induction will help the BJP give a fillip to its Ram Mandir agenda ahead of the 2022 assembly polls in the state. His return will also help the BJP consolidate the significant OBC Lodhi community in the upcoming by-elections in 13 assembly seats. Singh, a Lodhi leader, has a great hold over the community.
Singh’s re-induction appeared to be merely a formality, as he, even as the governor of Rajasthan, made no attempts to be perceived as holding a constitutional position. In March this year, amidst the heat of the Lok Sabha election campaign, Singh was in the middle of a controversy when he unabashedly praised Narendra Modi and added that his re-election was a necessity for the country.
“We are workers of BJP. Going by that, we definitely want the BJP to win. Everyone wants that once more, Modi-ji should become PM. It is necessary for the country and the society that Modi-ji becomes PM,” he had said as the Rajasthan governor.
After much hue and cry, the president’s office condemned his statement and said “no one in a constitutional post is permitted to campaign” for anyone. However, it added that since it did not receive any complaint, it could not take any action against Singh.
Meanwhile, the special court accepted the CBI application to summon Singh. As the trial is being conducted on a day-to-day basis, the application may come up for adjudication on September 11.
(With PTI Inputs)