Lalji Tondon: A versatile leader

Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon died on Tuesday at the age of 85. He was admitted to Lucknow’s Medanta hospital on June 11 after complaining of breathlessness, difficulty in urination, and fever. He is survived by wife Krishna Tandon and three sons. One of his sons, Ashutosh Tandon, is a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government.
Tandon was born in Chowk in Lucknow on April 12, 1935, to Shivnarayan Tandon and Annapurna Devi. He entered Uttar Pradesh assembly as a Member of Legislative Council (MLC) in 1978.
Tondon again entered the upper house in 1990 and it was during this second term as MLC when he became a minister for the first time. He held a number of portfolios in his five decades-long political career. Before becoming Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Tandon served as Bihar Governor from August 2018 to July 2019. He won the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat in 2009.
In the political circle, he was considered close to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was also considered as one of the founder members of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly said while expressing the condolence, “He played a key role in strengthening the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. He made a mark as an effective administrator, always giving importance to public welfare. He was well-versed with constitutional matters.”
The veteran leader had courted some controversy around during his active political life. In his book 'Ankaha Lucknow' (a book about Avadh province and Lucknow which people do not know), He glorified the Nawab rule and has accused the Britishers of maligning their image. Also, he mentioned about how the famous "Laxman Tila" was either demolished or allowed to rust and the place is now known as "Teele Waali Masjid" - a famous mosque. Tandon has reportedly accused the Samajwadi Party of the disappearance of "Laxman Tila", the accusation which has sparked a huge political furore.
There was another controversy occurred on his birthday in April 2004, when was distributing free saris to poor women when a stampede broke out, killing 21 people. However, was later given a clean chit in this matter.  As a Governor of Bihar, Tandon was praised for streamlining the academic activities of the state universities. He was appointed as the 22nd Governor of Madhya Pradesh on July 20, 2019, replacing Anandiben Patel.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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