Ajit Singh
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Ajit Singh

Son of former prime minister Chowdhry Charan Singh, the kisan leader and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit SIngh is today the most prominent leader of western Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2004 15:07 IST

Son of former prime minister Chowdhry Charan Singh, the kisan leader and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh is today the most prominent leader of western Uttar Pradesh.

Educated in the US for 17 years to become a computer system expert, the Jat stalwart has been the friend and foe of almost the same set of persons and parties on different occasions -- all in the name of his people's interest.

As an Agriculture Minister in AB Vajpayee's Cabinet, he vigorously pursued the farmers' interest and finally quit the govt ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls two years ago. He later withdrew support to Maya-BJP coalition on May 24, 2003.

His father was once virtually the presiding deity of the large western UP belt. And the Baghpat Lok Sabha constituency has remained a borough, first to former premier Charan Singh and then then to his son Ajit. However, as the Kisan Kamgar Party chief, he was defeated at the hands of a political greenhorn Som Pal from Baghpat in 1998.

His great following among the farmers of Western UP has worked like a political magnet, drawing many political parties and personalities to him for electoral gains over the years. Prime Minister Vajpayee had included him in his Cabinet despite opposition from another Jat strongman Haryana's Om Prakash Chautala, keeping poll prospects in mind.

Born on February 12, 1939 in Bhadola in Meerut district, he graduated from Lucknow University before joining the prestigious IIT, Kharagpur for a B.Tech degree. Keen on continuing with his engineering studies, he went to Illinois for a M.S from the University there.

On returning to India from US in 1981, Ajit Singh started working for an international company in Delhi. He announced to maintain distance from politics but future had something else in store for him.

Hhe first enterned the Parliament (Rajya Sabha) in 1986. He contested his first Lok Sabha poll in 1989. Before this, he became president of Lok Dal(A) and then president of Janata Party. Between 1986 and 1989, he fought a bitter war against Mulayam Singh Yadav, who by then had emerged a possible successor to the legacy of Ch. Charan Singh in the party.

After failing to evolve a consensus in the election of the leader of the UP Janata Dal legislature party, the emissaries of the Janta Dal high command had no choice but to allow a contest for the post. Ajit challenged Mulayam and ultimately lost the election and virtually the war of succession. Then he decided to merge the his Lok Dal (A) into Janata Dal to become Industries Minister in VP Singh-led Government.

In 1991 poll, he tried to grab UP's leadership but the 'Ram Laher' seeping the state stopped him at that time when BJP washed out the great combine of Jats, backwards and Muslims. Even in Western UP, the traditional stronghold of Choudhurys, the results were no different.

When Congress came to power at the centre in 1991, Ajit first offered outside support to it but later joined the Govt as Cabinet minister for food (Feb 1995-May 1996).

He got elected to Lok Sabha for the third time in 1996 and became president of his party with yet another change of name -- this time Bharatiya Kisan Kamgar Party.

He suffered a humiliating defeat in elections to 12th Lok Sabha but recovered from the shock soon, winning Baghpat seat in 1999.

First Published: Mar 25, 2004 11:58 IST