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BJP veteran Lalji who dominated UP political landscape

Lucknow: Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon had a dominating presence in Uttar Pradesh where he served as cabinet minister and was elected to the assembly and council multiple times.

Belonging to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani era of BJP leaders, Tandon (85), who died at a hospital in Lucknow early Tuesday, proved himself as an able administrator during his decades-long political career in Uttar Pradesh.

A former Lok Sabha MP, he was later given gubernatorial responsibility.

Fondly known as “Babuji” among his supporters, Tandon was known for his proximity to Vajpayee.

Tandon represented the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat (2009-14) when the former prime minister did not contest from the high-profile constituency on account of his poor health.

He took oath as Madhya Pradesh governor on July 29, 2019, when the Congress was in power in the state, after serving in the same post in Bihar for nearly 11 months. His tenure in the Raj Bhavan here, too, lasted for nearly 11 months.

After taking charge as governor during the Congress government, Tandon ensured his presence was felt in the administration.

His gubernatorial skills were put to test when the Congress government of Chief Minister Kamal Nath faced an internal revolt when 22 party MLAs, including six ministers -all supporters of former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia -resigned in March this year.

When the Nath administration delayed taking the floor test, Tandon, a seasoned politician and administrator, intervened and directed the Congress government to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly, triggering a “letter war” between the CM and the governor.

Then came a bitter legal battle between the Congress government, the governor and the BJP which was finally settled by the Supreme Court that ruled in favour of Tandon’s directive on the matter.

Reduced to minority post the resignation of 22 MLAs, the 15-month-old Nath regime collapsed, paving the way for the BJP to form its government under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Tandon opened the Raj Bhavan kitchen for preparing food packets for the needy.

The governor’s kitchen has been sending out as many as 100 food packets on a daily basis and sometimes even at a short notice, a spokesperson from the Raj Bhavan said.

Tandon personally examined each item packed in the food parcels and also tasted them to ensure quality, the spokesperson added.

As chancellor of state universities, he regularly monitored educational institutions and ensured teaching standards are maintained at all cost.

Born on April 12, 1935 in the Chowk area of Lucknow, to Shiv Narayan Tandon and Annapurna Devi, Tandon entered politics after completing graduation.

Tandon became a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council for the first time in 1978. He served two terms in the Upper House of the state legislature – from 1978 to 1984 and 1990-1996.

He was elected as an MLA three times between the period 1996-2009 and served as a minister for the first time in UP’s BJP government in 1991-1992 and held the power portfolio.

Tandon also served as leader of the legislative council from 1997-2002 and held the same post in the assembly from 2003-2007.

Upon the BJP’s ascension to power in Uttar Pradesh, he served as a minister on more than one occasion.

He was urban development minister in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet under Mayawati, who was heading the BSP-BJP coalition government. Tandon had also served in the Kalyan Singh ministry.

Tandon was cabinet minister for urban development and poverty alleviation two times, from 1999-2000 and from 2000-2002. From 2002 to 2003, he was the UP cabinet minister for housing, finance, urban development and tourism.

He married Krishna in 1958 and they have three sons. One of them, Ashutosh Tandon, is now the UP cabinet minister for urban development.

The veteran leader was appointed the Bihar governor on August 23, 2018 and remained in the post till July 28, 2019 after which he was moved to Madhya Pradesh

He had established a number of educational, social and cultural organisations in the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh and had special interest in cattle rearing.

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