Former bandit Malkhan Singh, the symbol of terror in the Chambal ravines of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the 1970s, may campaign for Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in the assembly polls.
Ajit Singh formally inducted the 72-year-old former dacoit into the party three days ago appointing him as a member of the party national executive albeit in a hush-hush manner, party sources confirmed. Though RLD leaders including Ajit Singh were not available for comment, Malkhan Singh confirmed that he had joined the RLD and would campaign for the party that has been pushed to the margins.
“I joined the RLD recently and will now certainly campaign for the party candidates with all the might at select places for the UP assembly polls if I am asked to,” he told HT over phone from Gwalior where he currently stays. He, however, said he was not going to contest election for now.
This is the first time that the dreaded ex-bandit will canvass for any political party in UP. He had earlier campaigned for the Congress and the BJP in Madhya Pradesh but never officially joined either of these two parties.
“I campaigned for the Congress and the BJP in MP but both the parties let me down,” adding “Now, I am with Ajit Singh and will do my bit to strengthen the party.”
Asked why he has joined hands with Ajit Singh after campaigning for BJP and praising Modi in 2014, he said he was a free bird and could support any party he wished. “When ministers, MPs and MLAs can change loyalties, why can’t I? he asked.
He said the Congress-SP alliance was an opportunistic one and would not work. “Though Akhilesh Yadav is a nice person, a party like the Congress that ruled the country for so many years should have not entered into an alliance with the SP. This will demoralize the Congress workers,” said he.
Malkhan Singh who loves being called ‘Dadda’, ruled the Chambal ravines in MP and UP for nearly 15 years striking terror in the heart of the people in the two states. He surrendered before then MP chief minister, Arjun Singh in 1982.
Sources said Malkhan Singh who belongs to the Lodh caste and took to guns due to caste war may influence Lodh voters especially in Bundelkhand districts sharing border with MP, if he is roped in for canvassing. “With his attractive personality, a 6ft Malkhan Singh was seen drawing a good crowed when he campaigned for BJP’s Narendra Tomar in Lok Sabha polls in 2014,” said an RLD leader.
Malkhan Singh’s induction into the RLD is being seen as a part of Ajit Singh’s aggressive strategy to save his party from political oblivion after it was left in the lurch by prospective alliance partners.
On Sunday, Ajit Singh released the 10th list of party candidates with 25 names. The RLD has now announced a total of 225 candidates for the 403-seat Assembly.