Ajit Singh: The pinch of salt in UP politics
VP Singh to Narasimha Rao to AB Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh — Chaudhary Ajit Singh, 72, has been sought by one and all. The 3.7% Jat vote he controls in western Uttar Pradesh is a catalyst for both state assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Sunita Aron writes.lucknow Updated: Dec 19, 2011 01:24 IST
VP Singh to Narasimha Rao to AB Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh — Chaudhary Ajit Singh, 72, has been sought by one and all. The 3.7% Jat vote he controls in western Uttar Pradesh is a catalyst for both state assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Ajit has had all major political parties knocking at his door for support — even now, when his party’s strength in the state assembly of 403 is a paltry 10 seats. And he never refuses. For him, no political party is untouchable.So, while he has never been the state chief minister, he has become union minister four times — each time in a different dispensation.
Ajit was minister in the National Front government of VP Singh in 1989. But the Congress took him in its fold in 1995-96, when PV Narasimha Rao was the prime minister.
In 2001, Ajit stepped across the political divide again, joining the BJP-led NDA government.
The political cauldron of Uttar Pradesh, however, was not Ajit’s destination of choice — even though he was the son of former prime minister and farmer leader Charan Singh.
From IIT Kharagpur, he had gone to make a successful 15-year IT career in the United States. But quitting his plush job, he returned in 1986 to fight for Charan Singh’s legacy on which Mulayam Singh had staked claim. Ajit formed Lok Dal-A in 1987. The faction led by Mulayam and the late HN Bahuguna was called Lok Dal–B. He later merged it with the Janata Party and in 1989, merged Janata Party into Janata Dal.
In 1997, he formed Bhartiya Kisan Kamghar Party, though he had contested the Lok Sabha polls the year before on a Congress ticket.
In 1999, Ajit formed Rashtriya Lok Dal, which remained stable though he changed allies frequently. His last alliance was with the BJP in 2009.
But despite his flip-flops, voters remained loyal to Ajit.
He has won six Lok Sabha elections that he contested from Baghpat and lost only once, to the BJP.