Editor's note: This article was originally published on 18 May, 2016. It is being re-published in the wake of the crisis in the Samajwadi Party and the important role Amar Singh plays in it.
Perhaps one of the perfect examples of the funny and ever-changing alliances in politics is the fact that more than six years after the Samajwadi Party (SP) expelled Amar Singh, it "unanimously" declared him as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls on Wednesday, setting the stage for his possible return to the party.
Once the general secretary of the party and one of the most important leaders, Amar Singh — along with his close associate Jaya Prada — was expelled from the SP in February, 2010. He floated his own political party, Rashtriya Lok Manch, in 2011, and fielded a large number of candidates in 2012 UP Assembly polls. However, none of his candidates won. He had joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal and contested the 2014 Lok Sabha poll from Fatehpur Sikri but lost.
Before he was expelled from SP, Amar Singh served as the main face of the party in Delhi, according to this Firstpost article. Even in 2015, SP was affected by Singh missing from the party as its ties with other parties took a hit without him. Singh was also credited with bringing a lot of industrialists close to the Mulayam Singh family. His Bollywood connection also added to his image as he rubbed shoulders with actors Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt.
Singh was assigned to look after former UP CM Vir Bahadur in 1985. He first met Mulayam Singh Yadav at Vir Bahadur's residence and joined the SP in 1996. After that, Singh's rise in the party was meteoric.
An article in Catch News said that Amar Singh's greatest achievement during his time in the SP was the transformation of Mulayam's image. "He turned this anti-English, anti-modern regional leader into a major player on the national stage. Amar Singh's lavish lifestyle may have been objectionable to Mulayam's Lohiaite ideology, but the SP supremo had to accept glamour-loving Singh as his most effective translator and intermediary in meetings with business tycoons, film stars and the media," the article said.
"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 and bling with him to the party. He managed to change the basic image of the party," Livemint quoted a senior SP leader based in Lucknow as saying.
However, as important as Singh was to the party, with his larger-than-life persona, he had created strong enemies within the party. Even today, after the SP declared him its candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls, senior SP leader and UP minister Azam Khan expressed disappointment over the decision.
"As far as I think, this whole incident is unfortunate. Netaji malik hai aur malik ke faisle ko chunauti dena mere adhikar chetra ke bahar hai (Mulayam Singh is the party chief and to challenge his decision is beyond my rights)," DNA quoted Khan as saying.
Even last year, SP leaders like Ram Gopal Yadav and Naresh Agrawal were against Amar Singh. After leaving SP, Singh had also levelled allegations of serious nature against Mulayam Singh Yadav and had even threatened to expose him.
However, according to this report in The Indian Express, Singh now wants to revive the SP's network with the other parties. The report also said that the return of Amar Singh will be benefitial for the SP because the party needs a mass leader and a political manager at the national level for the crucial 2017 UP Assembly polls. Amar Singh, who is a Thakur, could help the SP oppose Home Minister Rajnath Singh, also a Thakur and considered to be the UP CM candidate of the BJP.
Amar Singh might not be the ideal politician and there might still be many in the SP who will be against his return. But the SP needs someone with the kind of image and flair that Amar Singh has had and his return will most probably cause new ripples in Indian politics.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: Oct 25, 2016 11:00 am | Updated Date: Oct 25, 2016 11:02 am