Admitting that many people want to see Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as India's next prime minister, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would take a call on this at the appropriate time. He said he would return to the party soon after having gone separate ways.
"The decision on Modi will be taken by the BJP and the NDA at an appropriate time, but I can say he is a very tall leader with no graft taint on him," said Kalyan Singh, who was chief minister when the Babri Masjid was razed in 1992 and who is all set to return to the BJP after a bitter parting.
He also predicted a clean sweep for Modi in the Gujarat assembly polls in December with an improved tally from the 117 seats in the 182-member house.
"Modi is the Vikas Purush of Gujarat who has put in place a transparent system and has no taint on him," Kalyan Singh told IANS in an interview.
Asked to comment on the controversies surrounding BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, Kalyan Singh said that rather than being slammed, he should be lauded for the courage he has shown in calling for "any form of probe by any agency. Has (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi shown similar courage in the case involving (her son-in-law) Robert Vadra?"
"Though I do not know the technicalities of the allegations against Gadkari-ji, I am sure that if he has denied wrongdoing, there is no reason to suspect him," the 80-year-old leader said.
Asked to comment on his re-entry into the saffron fold despite a "bad experience" in the past, Kalyan said "waqt" (time) was the primary reason that brought them together.
"Both the BJP and I have understood that we are made for each other and that there is no point travelling separate paths when the destination is the same," he said while pointing out that he had been bred in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) tradition and had nationalism and patriotism in his blood.
Have the factors that twice led to his separation from the BJP changed?
"I am sure they have. We already have had three rounds of serious discussion and the grey areas have been attended to. I am sure if we work unitedly and to liberate the people of this country from the clutches of a corrupt government, the BJP stood a clear chance (at the 2014 general elections)," Kalyan Singh maintained.
As for the timing of his re-entry, he said: "The national leadership was very busy with the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat polls, I will meet Gadkari-ji very soon and a date will be fixed thereafter." The comeback, would be a glittering event, attended by national and state party leadership, preferably in Lucknow, when he and his son Rajveer would join the BJP and his Rashtriya Kranti Party (RKP) would merge with the party.
For a man held responsible for the razing of the Babri mosque by frenzied mobs of Kar Sevaks even as he refused to sign orders for the police to open fire, the construction of a Ram temple, Kalyan Singh admitted, still remained close to his heart.
"Ram Mandir is an emotional issue for me. I have a long association with the movement and I am hopeful that before I breathe my last, I will see a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya" he said.
Claiming that he had once helped the BJP win 6o Lok Sabha seats in undivided Uttar Pradesh, Kalyan Singh said the feat can be repeated if the party selects the right candidates in 2014.
"As of now I am a wellwisher of the party but outside as of now. Once I am in, we will together work on an action plan and revive the party in the state," he said.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)