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Man who beat the BJP heavyweights

Jagdish Tytler’s political career appears to be almost over after a summary trial by the media hugely influenced by accusations of his involvement in the 1984 anti Sikh riots, reports Pankaj Vohra.

delhi Updated: Apr 10, 2009 01:43 IST
Pankaj Vohra
Pankaj Vohra
Hindustan Times

Jagdish Tytler’s political career appears to be almost over after a summary trial by the media hugely influenced by accusations of his involvement in the 1984 anti Sikh riots.

However, Tytler will go down in the history of Delhi’s politics as the only leader who defeated four top ranking BJP leaders during his four Lok Sabha victories. All his wins were from his old constituency-Delhi Sadar — and starting with late Kanwar Lal Gupta (1980), he went to humble Madan Lal Khurana (1984), Vijay Kumar Malhotra (1991) and Vijay Goel (2004).

He was denied a ticket to contest only once in 1998 when the Congress fielded late M.M. Aggarwal in his place to face Khurana. The Congress lost the polls that time.

Tytler is also the only one amongst the original established Delhi leaders who made it to the top without doing his political apprenticeship under the city’s one time strongman-HKL Bhagat. He was perhaps able to do so largely because of his proximity to both Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi.

For someone who did his schooling from Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, and graduation from Delhi College (now Zakir Hussain College), politics has been a long struggle. According to Congress old timers, Tytler and Rajiv Gandhi became friends while they took flying lessons at the Delhi Flying Club in the early seventies.

One day, after the flying session was over, Rajiv's two-wheeler developed a snag and Tytler helped him to get to Laxmi Bai Nagar where Arjun Dass (who subsequently became a Congress leader and was killed by Sikh militants on September 4, 1985) got the problem fixed.

Rajiv thanked the two profusely and later introduced them to his younger brother Sanjay who wanted to pursue a career in politics.

Both Tytler and Arjun Dass became very close to Sanjay who had by that time gathered other friends such as Dr Raj Kaushik whom he made the president of the Delhi Youth Congress and Rusksana Sultana.

Tytler replaced Kaushik as the Delhi Youth Congress chief after the later was embroiled in a controversy leading to the banning of noted playback singer Kishore Kumar on AIR on his refusal to participate in the Geeton Bhari Shaam during the Emergency.

Tytler stood by Sanjay and was given the party ticket to contest in 1980 for the Lok Sabha. He defeated BJP veteran Kanwar Lal Gupta.

Sanjay’s death in June 1980 did not politically impact him since he already knew Rajiv Gandhi from the Flying Club days. He thus became a Union minister in the Indira Gandhi government in the early 1980s. He also served as a minister under Rajiv Gandhi and then PV Narasimha Rao.

When he was inducted by Manmohan Singh in his ministry in 2004, in terms of experience in the Union Ministry, he was only next to Pranab Mukherjee.

Tytler runs an export business and his family runs the J.D. Tytler School in the memory of his father on East Park Road in Karol Bagh.

He is of the view that he has been done in by a conspiracy hatched by his opponents in the Congress though he refuses to name them on record.

He is considered close to Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, and a known critic of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit whom he always regarded as “an outsider” in Delhi politics. It is a supreme irony that he himself has become “an outsider” to Congress politics now.