Meet the 26/11 hero-turned-AAP MLA
As the AAP held out its reachout election campaign, its MLA Surender Singh’s heart was somewhere else. The former NSG commando who fought terrorists at the Taj Hotel exactly six years ago quietly took a flight to Mumbai on Wednesday.Updated: Nov 26, 2014 22:03 IST
As the Aam Aadmi Party celebrated its second birthday, and its top brass prepared to hold its reachout election campaign ‘Delhi Dialogue’, its MLA Surender Singh’s heart was somewhere else — far removed from politics.
The 36-year-old disliked politics when he was with the Army and on deputation with the NSG, a central force raised to combat terror, and now terribly misses the action.
“I had no interest in politics. In fact I disliked it. I faced a conflict when I joined the AAP. But I love doing my duty, anything assigned to me. Politics is still not my cup of tea, but the idea of doing social work keeps me going,” Singh said over phone while waiting at Delhi airport to board his flight.
The Delhi Cantt MLA proudly shares that his party has found him the best performing MLA. “As a part of my local area development fund, I had Rs 4.19 crore. I allocated every penny, for water, roads, parks, CCTV cameras and libraries.”
He reasoned leaving Delhi on a big day for his party was not a very tough call. “The horrific memories of my people, my colleagues being shot in hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Jewish community centre over three days still haunt me. Today, the whole country is observing the sixth anniversary of 26/11. My heart is in Mumbai right now. Nothing is as important.”
Raised in a family of limited means in Jhajjar in Haryana, Singh served the army for 14 years. He was sent to NSG on deputation in 2007. He vividly remembers how he got splinter injuries in limbs in a grenade attack while trying to flush out the terrorists. He also suffered from hearing loss.
A medical board later found him unfit for the job, when he had a maximum of 18 years of service left. “I can never forget the shots I fired at the terrorists from my MP5 gun. Politics can never get you that satisfaction.”
Singh said he felt hurt when he did not get benefits due to him for 19 months after Operation Black Tornado. When Singh raised the issue, the government rejected his claims, saying everything due to him was paid.
“Our leader Arvind Kejriwal took up the issue and the government finally released my pension,” he said.
Singh lives with his wife, two children, parents and a brother in Chanakyapuri and pays New Delhi Municipal Council Rs 600 a day rent for the house.
In the 2013 assembly elections, Singh surprised political pundits when he defeated three-time BJP MLA Karan Singh Tanwar.
But why did he join politics in the first place? “I was doing social works after retiring from NSG. Once, I met anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. He said I must take up a more active role. I knew I needed to take that plunge.”
First Published: Nov 26, 2014 16:36 IST