Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Amar Singh’s decision to quit from various positions in his organisation appears to be impulsive and taken in a fit of pique while he was in Dubai. Had it been a considered move, there would have been no need to fax his resignation letter from a foreign country. He could have easily waited and handed it in personally to party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who is his close friend. The casual manner in which Yadav dismissed reports of Amar Singh quitting the party also indicates that the boss is confident that he will get his friend to reconsider the decision.
The relationship between Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh has been in the limelight for many years because the former was able to manage a lot of things for the SP chief. He introduced an element of glamour to the party by bringing in filmstars. His friendship with Amitabh Bachchan helped in consolidating his position. He persuaded Sanjay Dutt to campaign for the SP in the 2009 polls even though the Dutts have been Congress supporters. His close association with Anil Ambani also brought corporate support for Yadav who was earlier known for his caste-based politics.
There is no denying that Amar Singh’s emergence also alienated many important SP functionaries like Beni Prasad Verma who is the topmost Kurmi leader in the state and whose role in the 2009 parliamentary polls helped the Congress get a large number of votes from his community. The list of disillusioned SP leaders included Azam Khan, the Muslim face of the party who publicly opposed the party’s decision to give the Rampur Lok Sabha ticket to Jayaprada. The actress won the seat but in the bargain, Yadav lost one of his most trusted lieutenants. Similarly, the suave Salim Sherwani also parted company with Yadav and Amar Singh was said to be the reason.
One factor that has recently contributed to the cooling of ties between Amar Singh and Yadav is the result of the Firozabad election where the SP strongman’s daughter-in-law Dimple was humbled by actor Raj Babbar, a one-time close associate who contested against her on a Congress ticket. Amar Singh was quick to distance himself from the defeat by claiming that the party should have taken this election seriously. The seat had been vacated by Akhilesh Yadav to enable his wife to contest from there and it is a Yadav family stronghold. It appears that the local Yadavs and Muslims chose to stay away from the SP for the first time. Many in the SP blamed Kalyan Singh’s association with the SP for the loss, indirectly hitting out at Amar Singh who had brought the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister close to Yadav.
Though many have held Amar Singh responsible for the downfall of Yadav, others believe that it was only because of the wily Rajput’s support that the SP boss has been able to survive the uncertainties of politics. No one can dispute the fact that Yadav on his own is a mass leader and Amar Singh is a perfect foil to him. He is his principal negotiator and has both the finesse and crudity to deal with people. He knows how the system works and is the perfect political man Friday. He is also the custodian of the Yadav clan’s secrets. He was considered a dependable friend for Mulayam and an equally ruthless adversary for others.
What is to be seen is whether Yadav will remove the irritants that have led to Amar Singh’s resignation or take the SP back to its original style of functioning. Though Amar Singh has hinted that he could join some other party, something which contradicts his “more time for family’’ explanation, he can thrive only in the Samajwadi Party. Between us.