Remembering Lalji Tandon: Vajpayee’s ‘Duttak Putra’ Who Embodied Lucknowi ‘Tehzeeb’ in Indian Politics

Remembering Lalji Tandon: Vajpayee’s ‘Duttak Putra’ Who Embodied Lucknowi ‘Tehzeeb’ in Indian Politics

Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon breathed his final on Tuesday morning after a month-long wrestle towards acute sickness, comprising a number of organ failures, at an excellent specialty hospital in Lucknow. He was 85. The veteran of Indian politics will, nevertheless, be remembered for lengthy due to his good nature and social and political outreach that was by no means curtailed by his political ideology.

A real embodiment of the “Atal school of politics”, Tandon — known as “Babu ji” by his admirers — can be remembered as a person who regardless of being a die-hard saffron soldier excelled on the artwork of political navigation in such a way that his strikes towards rivals have been by no means ugly. He was one amongst that fast-thinning breed of politicians who had good private relations throughout the political spectrum; living proof being his relationship with BSP supremo Mayawati who tied a ‘rakhi’ to him yearly.

In early March this 12 months, it was his final interplay with just a few journalists in Lucknow. Tandon was again residence within the previous metropolis space of Chowk in Lucknow for Holi celebrations, a convention he had by no means missed. Whereas he was at residence, Madhya Pradesh was hit by political disaster because the then Kamal Nath authorities got here underneath a storm after riot from Jyotiraditya Scindia. As journalists scrambled to get Tandon’s take because the governor on the erupting disaster, they have been solely met with scrumptious ‘Gujhiyas’ and a smile.

This was the fashion Tandon professed. Clearly, he was not a person in hurry, even supposing beleaguered Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath had already despatched him a letter, requesting fast sacking of six of his cupboard colleagues

This was the form of political functioning that Tandon has mastered over the many years. In native parlance, it’s the everyday Lucknowi-style of shifting unhurriedly, chewing one thing high-quality earlier than swallowing it.

Born and introduced up in Lucknow, Tandon bought related to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and erstwhile Jan Sangh when he was younger. Nonetheless, his hyperlinks with saffron politics by no means restricted his outreach and connections with folks from totally different sections of society.

Having began as a corporator in early 1970s, Tandon entered the higher home of the UP legislature a decade later. Nonetheless, his meteoric rise inside the BJP and saffron politics got here with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s entry within the electoral race from the constituency of Lucknow in 1991.

Tandon grew to become the election supervisor for the BJP stalwart. His political join throughout the social spectrum got here as added benefit within the constituency which didn’t simply have a sizeable Muslim inhabitants but in addition had a really distinct secular character. Since then, he by no means appeared again.

Having seen and reported for lengthy on Tandon, senior journalist Brijesh Shukla says, “There was a clear imprint of the “Tehzeeb” amidst which he had grown up. He reflected the spirit of Lucknow, the city known for mutual co-existence and reverence for different religions and ideologies.”

As his personal bonding grew with Vajpayee, Tandon steadily climbed up the ladder within the BJP. He was appointed the urban development minister in the first BJP government in UP, with Kalyan Singh as chief minister in 1991. Those were also the hay days of the temple movement, but very much like his political mentor, Tandon too remained a soft face of Hindutva, never venturing out on the frontlines of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation.

For Tandon, loyalty to his political mentor was supreme. Post mid-nineties as BJP’s pioneer of temple movement and former chief minister Kalyan Singh got into an inner party struggle with top leadership, specially Vajpaee, Tandon firmly stood with the Atal camp.

Later on, Tandon, along with former UP CM and emerging face of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra, became the most established troika of the BJP in the state. As Vajpayee led the country as PM from 1999 to 2004, Tandon continued to be his key man in Lucknow.

This unshaken commitment gradually earned him the title of political heir to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when it came to his constituency of Lucknow. As Vajpayee gradually withdrew from the political arena because of ill health, Tandon was the natural choice for replacing him as the BJP candidate from Lucknow in the 2009 parliamentary elections. He was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha by a margin of over 40,000 votes over Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the Congress.

In 2014, as he was denied a poll ticket and was forced to pave the way for Rajnath Singh as a candidate from Lucknow, many thought it was the end of the political journey for Tandon. A man well versed in the “Atal school of politics” was thought-about to have misplaced within the period of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

Nonetheless, Tandon’s old-school observe of persistence and shopping for time in politics didn’t go in useless. As former BBC correspondent Ram Dutt Tripathi says, “Lucknow is known for the culture of ‘pehle aap (after you)’. Tandon has mastered it in his political discourse. So, even when it comes to fighting the odds, he refrains from being the one to deliver the first blow.”

This fashion of politics slowly introduced the main target again on to him, as he bought the governorship of Bihar in August 2018 and was then shifted to Madhya Pradesh in 2019, the workplace he was at the moment holding.

Information of Tandon’s demise on Tuesday morning was shared on Twitter by his son Ashutosh, a cupboard minister in Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Aditananth authorities. A one-line message “Babuji nahi rahe” was sufficient to let all realize it was the tip of Tandon’s worldly journey.

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