Hit me, kick me, abuse me but always keep my name on the board – Winston Churchill.
One Indian politician that emulated Churchill’s golden words is Amar Singh. Born in a Rajput family in Azamgarh, politics was always his principle passion. Young Amar Singh had always great memory and brilliant oratory that attracted major political people cutting across party line. Till recently he was one of the tallest leader in the Samajwadi Party. He was the general secretary of the Samajwadi Party and was a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. On 6 January 2010, he resigned from all the posts of Samajwadi Party and was later expelled from the party by its chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav on 2 February 2010. He took retirement from politics citing poor health. In his statement he mentioned, “I want to give more time to my wife and my family. However in 2016, he rejoined Samajwadi Party and was elected to Rajya Sabha even after facing a stiff opposition from a section of the party including the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav. He was also reinstated as one of the general secretaries of the party in October 2016. But the Yadav family feud forced Amar Singh to side with his mentor Mulayam Singh Yadav that led to differences with then CM of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav. Ultimately it led to expulsion of Amar Singh from the party and he became unattached member in the Rajya Sabha.
However, it was in July 2008 that Singh rose to political prominence. Singh’s prominence in Delhi surged when the UPA government was reduced to a minority after the Communist Party of India withdrew their support over the proposed Nuclear Accord with the United States. His Samajwadi Party pledged support to the UPA government with the support of its 39 members. Amar Singh closness with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and strategic grip over his party propelled him to the centre stage of the national polity. In the process, he attracted powerful friends and even more powerful enemies. The powerful lobbies worked against the sudden rise of Amar Sngh and on 6 January 2010, he was forced to resign as general secretary of the party as well as from its parliamentary board and as its spokesperson. He also used his blog to speak about his abrupt departure from the Samajwadi Party. On 21 December 2010, Singh launched his official website and blog, supposedly after being encouraged by Hindi film actor Amitabh Bachchan, whom he was close to at the time.
As the destiny has it, Then Chief Minister of UP Late Vir Bahadur Singh introduced Amar Singh with Mulayam Singh Yadav with an agenda to target VP Singh for neutralizing growing threat for Rajiv Gandhi from VP Singh. This meeting was the turning point in Amar Singh;s political career that sparked the rise of Amar Singh. Singh’s first stint in politics happened in 1985 when he was assigned to look after UP chief minister Vir Bahadur Singh while he was in the city for a programme organised by the Thakur community of Kolkata. Impressed with Singh, the chief minister invited him to Lucknow. Quick to recognise the potential of the invitation, Singh shifted to Lucknow with his grandmother. Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was then an outsider to Delhi’s power circles had met Singh at Vir Bahadur Singh’s residence and saw the merit of a man whose reach ranged from politicians and film sets to corporate houses. However Amar Singh ventured closely with Congress party to explore his political options under Madhav Rao Sindhia patronage. Incidentally Amar Singh was in the board of directors of Hindustan Times, PAPER OWNED BY Birla’s, traditionalmCongress supporters. He ALMOST FOUGHT PARLIAMENTRY ELECTIONS in 1991 on CONGRESDS TICKET BUT Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh opposed his nomination that led to Amar Singh’s disillusionment with the congress party.
Many years later, Mulayam Singh Yadav happily welcomed Singh on board in 1996. The alliance was mutually beneficial and gave the businessman political heft. Given the responsibility of being SP’s spokesperson in Delhi, Singh soon became the face of the party in the national capital and also rose to the position of No. 2 in SP, edging out veterans like Beni Prasad Verma, Raj Babbar and Mohammed Azam Khan, among others. “Most of the SP leaders, including Ram Gopal Yadav, Mohammed Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav may not be very pleased with the decision of Mulayam Singh. Typical of a regional party which is headed by a patriarch, the entire politics of the organization revolves around the patriarch. Amar Singh became the eyes and ears of Mulayam Singh Yadav and this made a lot of leaders jealous of him,” the SP leader said. Later in 1996 when H.D. Deve Gowda was prime minister, and Yadav, a key supporter of Gowda, was defence minister in the Union cabinet, Amar Singh formally joined SP in the same year to become one of the most influential lead in Delhi. . Singh has remained the face of SP in Delhi’s power circles ever since, and has always been identified as a close confidant of Yadav, who later became Uttar Pradesh chief minister. SP was a traditional party till 1996, the basic organizational network of SP was in rural and semi urban areas, but after Amar Singh joined in 1996, he brought glamour, political connections, Bollywood, network with big industrial houses with him to the party. He managed to change the basic image of the party.
Yet again in 2016, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s decision to nominate Singh as one of the seven candidates for the Rajya Sabha comes as a political resurrection of the 60-year-old master strategist of the SP, ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. A shrewd politician and a Bollywood socialite, Singh’s journey from the lanes of Burrabazzar in North Kolkata to the power corridors of Delhi and gradual exit from the scene is unmatched. “There is one quality of Mulayam Singh Yadav which cannot be matched by any other politician. If a person has been with Mulayam Singh Yadav during his good and bad times, the SP chief doesn’t forget it. He doesn’t care if the public perception of the person is good or bad, but he will return the favour if he thinks the person has served him well. And Amar Singh is one such person who continues to remain very close to Mulayam Singh Yadav,” the SP leader quoted above said.
Though it will also not be prudent to say that we are not friends. It will not be proper to say we are enemies,” Singh was quoted in a report by News 18 dated 4 July 2008, a statement reflective of Singh’s tongue-in-cheek way of talking. Singh’s 31-year-old political career has seen controversies and allegations of many hues. Singh has time and again grabbed headlines over corruption charges — whether it is the July 2008 cash-for-votes scam where a chargesheet was filed against him for allegedly bribing three Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha MPs to vote for the UPA government which was facing a floor test in the parliament; the 2011 phone tapping controversy where taped phone conversations revealed Singh allegedly fixing deals with politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats and Bollywood celebrities; or the 2011 ‘fix-a-judge’ controversy where again a CD allegedly showed Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav in conversation with former law minister Shanti Bhushan suggesting that a judge could be bribed for Rs.4 crore for a desired court verdict. In the cash-for-votes scam, he was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail. He was released in November 2013 by a Delhi court. More recently, in 2015, US writer Peter Schweizer wrote in his book Clinton Cash that Singh donated between $1 million and $5 million in 2008 to the Clinton Foundation as the US Congress debated the landmark India-US civilian nuclear deal. Friends and politicians who have worked closely with Singh call him a hardworking and resourceful person who has always had a political bent of mind. SP leader and Rajya Sabha member Kiranmoy Nanda who has known Singh since the time Singh was part of the Youth Congress in Kolkata, says that “Singh is and has always been a political person.” “Amar Singh is a very resourceful man and by that I not just mean monetarily, which obviously stands true. But even his relationship with the media which he handles so well, as well as his political understanding—all have helped Singh reach where he is today,” he says. However, Singh’s political career saw a downward spiral after his expulsion from the SP following fallout with Yadav in 2010.He floated his own political party, the Rashtriya Lok Manch, in 2011, and unsuccessfully fielded a number of candidates in the 2012 assembly polls in the state. He tried to revive his career again in 2014, ahead of parliamentary elections, when he and former Bollywood star Jaya Prada joined Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) but failed again as Singh lost the Lok Sabha poll from the Fatehpur Sikri seat. Amar Singh is a political obsessed man, looking to be politically relevant irrespective of win or loss. According to Amar Singh – ”life without politics is unthinkable”. Even after the loss, he scored a point that Amar Singh is not politically untouchable. In his long political career, Amar Singh has held many important positions starting from 1997-98 : Member, Committee on Papers Laid on the Table, 1998-99 and Oct. 2004 onwards Member, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Finance, June 1998 – Feb. 2004 and Aug. 2004 – Aug. 2006 : Member, Committee on Finance, 1999–2001 : Member, Committee on Provision of Computers to Members of Rajya Sabha, 1999 : Member, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Member, Informal Consultative Committee for Northern Railway Zone, April 2001 – Dec.2002 : Member, Joint Parliamentary Committee on Stock Market Scam and matters relating thereto, March 2002 – Nov. 2002 : Member, Committee on Petitions, Nov. 2002 : Re-elected to Rajya Sabha, June 2003 – Aug. 2004 : Member, Committee of Privileges, Aug. 2004 – May 2009 and Aug.2009 onwards : Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, Aug. 2004 onwards : Member, General Purposes Committee, Sept. 2006 onwards : Member, Business Advisory Committee, May 2008 – Nov. 2008 : Member, Committee on Public Undertakings, Nov. 2008 : Re-elected to Rajya Sabha, Jan. 2010 onwards : Member, Parliamentary Forum on Population and Public Health, 2016 : Re-elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh as a member of Samajwadi Party.
Other Information :
Was Director, (i) Indian Airlines, (ii) State Bank of India and (iii) National Textiles Corporation; previously associated with Congress; was Secretary, District Congress Committee, Calcutta; was Member, (i) A.I.C.C. and (ii) United Front Steering Committee; Member, (i) Board of Governors of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, (ii) Telephone Advisory Committee, Telecom District Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, 1998, (iii) Telephone Advisory Committee, Telecom District Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, 1999 and (iv) Hindi Salahkar Samiti of the Department of Defence Production and Supplies and Defence Research and Development Organisation; All India General Secretary, Samajwadi Party; National Spokesperson, Samajwadi Party
On 22 July 2008 he accused Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati of kidnapping six MPs of his party from Uttar Pradesh and holding them captive in Uttar Pradesh Bhavan, New Delhi. Later, Samajwadi Party expelled the six MPs for defying the party directive during the confidence motion voting. Amar Singh has well established international footprints. It is Amar Singh’s persuasive skills that brought US President Bill Clinton to India on a private visit to Sahara City in Lucjnow that boosted the stock of Samajwadi Party stocks in the international arena. In reference to the book Clinton Cash, the New York Post questioned Singh’s $5 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation, writing “Singh’s donation was treated with suspicion and amusement in India.
Read More in Details – October Edition of Opinion Express Magazine