The year was 1999, the month of September… ‘Main Kalyan Singh Bol Raha Hoon’… He had an unmistakable voice from the other side of the landline. No doubt, they were the same. After all, no chief minister calls the desk of an unknown newspaper early in the morning. This was the last week of September 1999. Mobile phones had arrived but were still out of reach of people. Thanks for your report, he said. He was talking about the stories I had written with him two days ago after his election trip to Bareilly, Kheri and Rampur in UP.
The Lok Sabha elections were just a month away and I was assigned the task of accompanying Chief Minister Kalyan Singh on his helicopter tour. He suddenly said, “What is the story of King Lear. Now I understand. That’s my story.” ‘King Lear Continues Haunting Kalyan Singh’ who appeared that day (a day after the rally report) and was based on his conversation with me during the day-long tour.
Then Kalyan’s BJP was running from the central leadership.
This was also the time when Kalyan Singh’s relations with the BJP central leadership began to strain. He believed that a section of BJP leaders of the state was conspiring against him and trying to malign his image. He also appeared annoyed with the way the central leadership was treating its tallest leader in the state.
After the conversation the editor asked me – ‘How was his voice?’
‘A bit bitter and helpless,’ I said and then tried to explain what was going on in Kalyan Singh’s mind.
‘Write it down’ the editor advised
I said “But it’s all casual conversation. He might not like it”
The editor said “We’ll figure out a way to present it.”
The story I wrote was about his resentment against his own top leaders, of course, about ‘people close to him’ and how it might affect the BJP’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
However, the King Lear idea was not mine. It was my editor who added it while editing. When he showed me the final copy, I loved it. After this it appeared on the front page in TOI, Lucknow the next day and then he (Kalyan Singh) had to call me to ask about King Lear’s story.
Ayodhya News: ‘That structure has gone, the government has also gone, I do not regret’, the story of Kalyan Singh
Though he was asking me, I was sure that the CM had already discussed the story with his staff and the comparison with Tragic Hero had angered him. But, still I gathered courage and tried to make it simple.
Then I answered his question that ‘This is the story of a king who was betrayed by his own people and lost his kingdom.’ My attempt here was also to justify the headline of the report.
After this he insisted that- ‘Exactly. You wrote perfectly. Ending my panic, and thanking me again, he hung up the phone. Exactly two months after this, in November 1999, he was removed from the post of Chief Minister of UP.
Political stalwarts reached to pay last respects to Kalyan Singh, Top News
Kalyan Singh (file photo)