Amar Singh: A negotiator par excellence
Amar Singh was instrumental in saving the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government when in 2008 the Left Front pulled out of the government over the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement.Updated: Aug 04, 2020, 13:51 IST
Rajya Sabha member and former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s rise and influence in Uttar Pradesh and national politics ran almost parallel to that of the Samajwadi Party. A negotiator par excellence, Amar Singh was known for making friends. He also ended up making some fierce enemies in politics, especially his own party.
Amar’s friendship with Mulayam Singh Yadav began in 1996 when the then Samajwadi Party national president attained prominence in national politics. Mulayam became the Union defence minister in 1996 and soon afterwards inducted Amar Singh (who was earlier in the Congress) into his party and sent him to Rajya Sabha in November 1996. Thereafter Amar’s influence in the party rose to the extent that some top leaders in SP even began to call him de facto SP president.
Amar Singh was instrumental in saving the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government when in 2008 the Left Front pulled out of the government over the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement. The Samajwadi Party with its 39 MPs gave outside support to the UPA-1.
In between this period, Amar Singh and his influence brought some visible changes in the party. Apart from his strong political connections across various parties, Amar also had links in Mumbai’s film industry.
He transformed the Samajwadi Party family’s ancestral village Saifai’s annual festival and made it dazzling by bringing in top Bollywood actors and singers to perform. But he went beyond entertainment. Over the years he also inducted several Bollywood personalities into Samajwadi Party and was the initiator of friendship between the Yadav family and Amitabh Bachchan family. Jaya Bachchan joined SP and is currently SP Rajya Sabha MP, Jaya Prada, Sanjay Dutt ( he came to contest the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat as SP candidate in 2009 but the Supreme Court restrained him), Nafisa Ali and Manoj Tiwari were others. Then it was Amar Singh who was behind making the then chief minister of UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav host the former US President Bill Clinton in Lucknow in 2005.
But his relationship with the Samajwadi Party turned sour in 2009. Heavyweight SP leaders and old friends of Mulayam--Azam Khan and Beni Prasad Verma had left the SP citing Amar Singh as the reason. Amar Singh resigned from all party posts (he was a general secretary and parliamentary board member of the party) after SP’s 2009 Lok Sabha polls debacle.Mulayam said that he would not accept the resignations of Amar Singh. In 2010, Mulayam expelled Amar Singh and Jaya Prada from the party. In 2011, ahead of the UP assembly polls, Amar Singh floated Rashtriya Lok Manch. He campaigned against the Samajwadi Party and contested the elections on over 200 UP seats without luck. Soon afterwards, he dissolved the Rashtriya Lokmanch and joined joined Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) with Jaya Prada. He and Jaya Prada contested the Fatehpur Sikri and Bijnore seats and lost.
However, in 2016, when the Samajwadi Party family feud between the current SP president Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav began, Amar took Shivpal’s side. Mulayam re-inducted him into the party again and sent him to Rajya Sabha again. Before the 2017 Assembly election, on becoming the national president of the party, Amar Singh was finally out of the party.