Why is Amar Singh so important for Mulayam?
- The Man for All Seasons has a reason to smile
Lucknow: When the hell broke loose on Monday at the Samajwadi Party meeting what with the father and son shouting at each other, the alleged conspirator, Amar Singh, was taking everything cool at far away Kolkata participating in a TV chat show with ace cricketer Virender Shehwag and visiting a news paper office and joking about the political developments in UP.
He called Ram Gopal Yadav, a staunch supporter of UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, a ‘eunuch’. The businessman-turned politician warned that, “if the supporters of Akhilesh continue to burn my effigies and tear my photographs with Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Netaji (Mulayam) would take over the reins before 2019 polls.”
Mulayam Singh, who has been sandwiched between his younger brother and elder son — Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav — had declared in Lucknow on Tuesday that Akhilesh would continue to be the chief minister and his family is united. He had his brother sitting on his side. But the young chief minister was conspicuous by his absence at the press meet.
Mulayam had once again declared that Amar Singh is very dear to him and he cannot distance him from the party. Akhilesh made it absolutely clear that the real source of the problem is Amar Singh and not his uncle Shivpal and if Amar Singh is distanced, everything would be alright in the party and government.
A simple decision to ask Amar Singh to stay away would have resolved the crisis that has rocked the ruling party a few months before the Assembly elections. However, Mulayam is not prepared to take such a decision. Why is Amar Singh so important for the SP chieftain?
Amar Singh had ruled the roost in UP in 2003 when he helped in luring some Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs to provide enough numbers for Mulayam Singh to form a government. Amar became known to the world as a crisis manager for Mulayam Singh in 1996 when he was made a member of Rajya Sabha by Mulayam. They became friends first in 1985 when Veer Bahadur Singh was the Congress chief minister of UP. Amar joined the SP only in 1996.
That was a crucial year in Indian politics when the Congress party under the stewardship of PV Narasimha Rao lost the elections and the Third Front came to power with Congress support. It was during those elections that Amar Singh was extremely useful to Mulayam by acting as a bridge between not so sophisticated Mulayam Singh and the high profile business leaders of the country. The proximity brought a lot of party funds to fight elections.
When Mulayam Singh became defence minister in the Third Front government, Amar called the shots in the SP. Then, Mulayam had formed UP Development Council with Amar Singh as chairman. It was a very glamorous council whose members included Anil Ambani, Adi and Parameshwar Godrej, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Subrata Roy of Sahara and LK Khaitan. Famous Bollywood actor Amitabh Bhachchan became UP’s brand ambassador and his wife Jaya became Rajya Sabha Member. The Bachchans used to visit UP very frequently. Even US President Bill Clinton visited Lucknow, thanks mainly to Amar Singh’s persuasion.
Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh were instrumental in saving the UPA-I government when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was very particular to sign the nuclear deal with the US and the Left Front opposed it tooth and nail and withdrew its support. During the voting on the trust motion, the SP stood solidly with the government and Amar Singh was accused of getting three BJP MPs to vote in favour of the motion. In the process, Amar Singh outshone the other luminaries of the SP like Veni Prasad Varma, Azam Khan and Raj Babbar. Both Azam Khan and Raj Babbar were expelled from party on account of Amar Singh. Akhilesh vacated his Firozabad Lok Sabha seat in preparation to the campaign for the Assembly elections.
In the by-election in November 2009, Akhilesh’s wife Dimple contested as SP candidate against the SP rebel Raj Babbar. She lost the election and blamed Amar for her defeat. Akhilesh has never been friendly with Amar. The end of Amar kahani coincided with the ascendance of Akhilesh. It was not just a coincidence. Akhilesh and Ram Gopal Yadav were successful in convincing Mulayam that Amar Singh should be dispensed with. Consequently, Amar was expelled from the parry in February 2010.
Amar Singh was readmitted into the party after six years in exile. He has been trying to regain his pre-eminent position he once enjoyed in the party. Mulayam also wanted to befriend national leaders of other political parties. Amar has the right connections to enable the former UP chief minister to interact with whomever he wanted to.
Mulayam said recently that Amar Singh is indispensable since he saved him from being jailed. He indeed freed Mulayam from the clutches of a criminal case in which the Yadav chieftain could have been jailed. It was Amar Singh’s role in organizing the able legal counsel and getting the case out of the way that made Mulayam indebted to him. As the next general elections draw closer, the importance of Amar Singh would only increase since his services would be invaluable in the event of a non-BJP and non-Congress alliance forming government at the Centre and Mulayam decides to throw his hat in the ring.