Once passed off as the sunset man of Indian politics, Amar Singh has emerged out of his deadwood chest to live for what possibly could be his last hurrah.
His recent elevation as the national general secretary of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, surprised both, friends and detractors. Singh, however, has been extremely pleased with himself and re-decked his office and home because he will now have a beeline of visitors.
And almost instantly, he displayed his awesome networking power by taking SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav to meet veteran lawyer and former law minister Ram Jethmalani, followed by some top-level meeting of a host of top businessmen from Gujarat — some of them diamond merchants.
Amar Singh was also believed to be instrumental in pushing Yadav Sr and his son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to attend a wedding of tainted stock broker Ketan Parekh in Gujarat. In between, he was rumoured to be the point person between Yadav and Sahara’s top boss, Subrata Roy after the latter managed to get bail following a two year-plus jail term. Singh also had Mulayam attend a dinner he had hosted in honour of media baron Subhash Chandra.
Meanwhile, Singh's office has urged journalists to meet him during his morning Durbars. Singh’s office, it is reliably learnt, has told television channels that he could attend kabaddi and hockey matches as a guest. "He is trying hard to tell the world he is alive and networking,” quipped BJP spokesperson Narendra Taneja. Taneja said Singh’s networking prowess, though weaker than before, can never be undermined. "He rusted for long, this is his last acid test, he is trying to make the most of it."
The list of promises Singh has made is fairly huge. The contentious disproportionate assets case dangling over Mulayam's head being one of them. Amar Singh has to also reach out to Akhilesh and he has to bring in a bagful of investors to Uttar Pradesh who will fund projects, both in the state and the party’s coffers before the all-important elections next year.
Amar Singh knows — in all possibility — that this is his last chance to make it. He has increased his interactions with wife of Mulayam, Sadhna Yadav and Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, a first time MLA from Amethi, set to be re-inducted into the state cabinet within a week after Akhilesh sacked him along with minister Raj Kishore Singh after complaints of corruption surfaced. Singh and Prajapati now represent the route to SP’s money power. The two are also close to Prateek Yadav, Mulayam's other son.
A significant chunk of SP hate Singh's presence in the party but if Amar Singh succeeds in all his efforts, his mercury within the party will only rise. "It is for his party to decide his relevance," said Pawan Khera of the Congress that first drew blood with Singh when he advised Mulayam not to support Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in her bid to power in 1999. Gandhi had to cut a very sorry figure because based on the assumption she will be supported by SP, she told reporters: "I have the support of 272 MPs."
True to Singh’s style, he settled scores with Congress when the party was looking for numbers for the passage of Indo-US nuke deal and also for the support for Pranab Mukherjee as President. Thanks to his numerous late night meetings with Rajiv Shukla and Ahmed Patel, Singh played the perfect deal maker.
In another gaffe, Singh made disparaging remarks after SP workers attacked BSP leader Mayawati and because of what Singh and later what Mulayam said, SP could never forge an alliance with BSP, which could have been a formidable force against BJP. Interestingly, in the last general elections it was the BSP and SP split of votes that helped the BJP romp home with ease.
Singh was expelled from the party in 2010 for anti-party activities, among them a shocking act of reportedly lowering trousers to show that he was roughing it out on the streets of Uttar Pradesh. But all that is history.
You know what else is historical? Singh's ability to break-up families. Singh was blamed for causing rift between the Ambani brothers, the Bachchans and Samajwadi Party's first family.
After his appointment as the party's national general secretary, Singh has promised Mulayam the moon — a direct connect with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. It is common knowledge in New Delhi that Singh is extremely close to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the second most powerful person in the NDA cabinet. And it is also common knowledge that Mulayam still harbours the ambition to occupy the country’s most important chair.
Singh, perhaps, is the only route Mulayam can take for one more term of name and fame. Delhi's political cognoscenti say that politics' biggest Mr Fix It can do wonders for anyone and everyone as long as he is not rubbed on the wrong side.
In a recent interview with a Hindi website, Singh claimed: "Muh mat khulwaiye, fir koi nahi bachega (Do not force me to open my mouth, then no one will survive)."