Know your Mulayam Singh
(I know this is too long. But thought it to be relevent... )
The Samajwadi Party and its two faces – Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh – have emerged into the nation’s saviours and once again, secularism is their slogan. Nothing more will be ironical than the fact that these two leaders were equally emphatic, not very long ago, hurling innuendoes against the Congress party and its president, Sonia Gandhi.
L.K.Advani, in his autobiography recalls his meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav late in the night on April 21, 1991. The context was the imminence of a Congress-led Government being formed after Atal Behari Vajpayee lost the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha on April 17, 1999. The meeting, according to Advani, was arranged by George Fernandes and at Jaya Jaitley’s residence at Sujan Singh Park, one of New Delhi’s up market residential localities. Advani recalls the secrecy that the meeting was shrouded in and that he was taken to that place by Ms. Jaitley herself in her private car to avoid anyone getting wind of it.
The BJP leader recalls that Mulayam Singh was already there at Ms. Jaitley’s house and the Samajwadi Party leader gave him a commitment there and then that the 20 MPs of the Samajwadi Party were committed against supporting a Congress-led Government. Sonia Gandhi had declared, a few hours before that meeting that she had the support of 272 MPs and that included the 20 MPs of the Samajwadi Party. To cut a long story short, Mulayam Singh met with President, K.R.Narayanan, on April 23, 1999 and informed him in writing that his party did not support Sonia Gandhi’s claim. And that put to rest the possibilities of a Congress-led Government.
Mulayam Singh has not denied this meeting until now. Well. Advani too has not revealed all that had happened at the meeting. There is no mention, in Advani’s autobiography as to whether he went to the meeting without any baggage! The point is whether Mulayam Singh turned richer after that meeting or not. And there is no provision in the Right to Information Act for us to know further details about that meeting. And Mulayam Singh certainly is not as innocent as the JMM MPs who deposited money into Fixed Deposit accounts they opened in a nationalized bank around the same time they saved the Narasimha Rao Government from falling in July 1993!
In the same way, it is not possible now to affirm as to whether Mulayam Singh’s realization, just a couple of days ago, that the Indo-US Nuclear deal is good for the nation simply on the basis of former president APJ Abdul Kalam’s opinion or as to whether something else. In other words, the RTI Act does not enable us to know as to whether the deal was clinched through any other deal. Well. This will continue to lurk in the minds of anyone who knows the Samajwadi Party somewhat well and Mulayam Singh’s past even remotely. And for those who are not familiar with the party and the past history of its supreme leader as well as about the chief interlocutor Amar Singh, here is a brief note on that.
Mulayam’s first foray into the national political discourse was in the context of the United Front that took shape in May 1996 when he became the Union Defence Minister. And after the then Congress president, Sitaram Kesri announced withdrawal of the pary’s support to the Government (on March 30, 1997), leaders of all hues were busy with what they love most; drawing room manipulations. Mulayam Singh was among them and he saw a distinct possibility of becoming the Prime Minister.
He had been the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh twice before[i]
and there was indeed a moment when Mulayam Singh Yadav emerged the front-runner for the top post. The United Front Convenor, N.Chandrababu Naidu was ``empowered’’ by the leaders of the several parties that made for the Front to chose between Yadav and I.K.Gujral. Both of them were ministers in the Deve Gowda cabinet. And Naidu, after consultations with a few senior journalists in Delhi decided to anoint Gujral. The fact is that Mulayam Singh Yadav lost the opportunity simply because he was not known to the senior journalists in Delhi at that time as much as they knew Gujral. And Lalu Prasad Yadav, another key player in the Front had his own reservations against Mulayam and hence pushed Gujral’s case.
Be that as it may. Mulayam Singh Yadav began his political life as a participant in campaigns that veteran socialist leader Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia[ii]
sometimes in 1954 and he was just 15 years of age then. From there, he had traveled a long way to arrive on the political scene in New Delhi by 1999. Elected as president of the Student’s Union of Etawah Degree College in 1961-62, he was part of the Samyukta Socialist Party contingent in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1967. The SSP had won 44 seats in the State Assembly in that election and had contested the polls as part of the grand alliance against Indira’s Congress party. This was when the Congress party’s natural claim to power suffered a dent and the party lost power in nine States. In Uttar Pradesh, however, the Congress retained power for a month after the elections. In April 1967, the Congress Government was brought down and Charan Singh became the Chief Minister with support from the Bharathiya Jan Sangh, the Samyukta Socialist Party, the Praja Socialist Party and the Swatantra Party.
Mulayam Singh was only 28 years old then and was the youngest member of the State Assembly. He did not stay for long in the Socialist Party. After losing his assembly seat in the 1969 elections, Mulayam Singh Yadav joined Charan Singh’s Bharathiya Kranti Dal and was elected to the Assembly in 1974. He was arrested and detained under MISA and when elections were held in March 1977, Mulayam Singh became part of the Janata Party by virtue of the fact that the Lok Dal had merged into the new outfit. He was elected, for the third time, to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and was made a minister in the Janata Party ministry headed by Ram Naresh Yadav. At 38, Mulayam was Minister for Cooperative and Animal Husbandry. He set out on a political project, influenced by the Lohiaite thought and introduced reservation for the Other Backwards Classes (OBCs) in jobs in his department. In other words, even though he had parted ways with the Socialist Party and joined Charan Singh’s camp, his decisions were guided by ideas that were rooted in an ideological framework that Lohia had formulated. And this helped him, in the long run, to carve out a political space for himself rather than remaining Charan Singh’s camp follower.[iii]
This does not mean that he was untouched by Charan Singh’s ideas. As Cooperative Minister between 1977 and 1980, Mulayam Singh also ensured reduced interest rates to the farmers. And when the Janata experiment collapsed, Mulayam clearly associated himself with Charan Singh and Madhu Limaye rather than going along the George Fernandes line.[iv]
Mulayam Singh, meanwhile, gave up the core aspect of the Lohiaite ideology; opposition to large-scale industries and a preference for appropriate technology as formulated by Mahatma Gandhi. While internalising the concept of affirmative action and building a strategic alliance with the medium and small farmer, Mulayam Singh was not convinced on the relevance of a campaign against promoting large enterprises in the private sector.
In other words, his was a blend of the Socialist Party’s ideas in the social realm and the Swatantra Party[v]
approach in the economic policy realm. And the idea of secularism, that was common to both these streams, constituted the third element of Mulayam Singh’s strategic thinking.
This long introduction is indeed necessary to place the emergence of Mulayam Singh and the factors that helped create a large political space, for himself, and explain the basis that ensures his survival in the Uttar Pradesh political scene and by extension, his continued relevance as a force to reckon with, in the national scene. This exercise will not be complete without stressing, at this stage, that in all these stages, Mulayam ensured that he was not saddled with the difficult task of dealing with leaders and personalities who had their own agenda. In other words, at every stage, he had consciously set out on a course to cultivate himself as a leader in his own right and freed himself from the trappings of being a passive participant in someone else’s political scheme.
Thus, after remaining under Charan Singh’s shadow for a while, Mulayam went on to align himself with H.N.Bahuguna when the Lok Dal split into Lok Dal (Ajit) and Lok dal (Bahuguna). He was aware of his own weakness vis a vis Charan Singh but also realized that his strength vis a vis Charan Singhs son, Ajit Singh. And at that stage, Mulayam also restricted his territorial focus to Uttar Pradesh, leaving Haryana to Devi Lal. He was aware of his status – of being an outsider – insofar as the Jats were concerned. At the same time, he knew the potential that existed to his own growth as a leader representing the rising aspirations of the Yadavs. He also understood the importance of a strategic alliance with the Rajputs in the Uttar Pradesh scenario and this led him to join the Janata Dal. In other words, when Mulayam finally agreed to merge the Lok Dal (B) into the Janata Dal in October 1988, despite strong opposition to this from H.N.Bahuguna[vi]
, he was guided by a shrewd calculation that a unity of the Yadavs and the Rajputs were critical for his own future. Those familiar with the socio-political scene in the Gangetic planes will know the impact of this in the 1989 general elections.[vii]
From being a Charan Singh protégé that helped him being nominated as the Leader of Opposition in the State’s Legislative Council[viii]
he was elected Leader of the Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly after 1985. And when the Janata Dal was formed, in October 1988, Mulayam Singh emerged the natural choice to lead the Uttar Pradesh unit of the party. As president of the State unit, he led the Janata Dal to victory in the State Assembly elections held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in November 1989. This was also when the BJP had launched its Ayodhya campaign and Mulayam Singh, who had already built himself upon the strategy that Madhu Limaye had set out in July 1978 (with a view to enlist the Muslim support to the anti-Congress politics) found all that were needed to unseat the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. The blatant attempts by Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress party to appropriate the Ayodhya agenda helped Mulayam in this.
The Assembly elections results from Uttar Pradesh in 1989, however, were not as pleasant to Mulayam Singh. The Janata Dal secured only 204 seats in the 421 member State Assembly and was forced to depend on the 13 MLAs who had won as independents. This was only a small issue. Mulayam’s problem was Ajit Singh. He had staked his claim for Chief Minister’s post. The Janata Dal Legislature Party in Uttar Pradesh was faction ridden and the MLAs were split up between Mulayam and Ajit Singh. Though Mulayam commanded a larger number of MLAs, he was dependent on the former Jan Morcha lot to emerge the winner. And these were men who were unflinching, at that time, in their loyalty to V.P.Singh. All this pushed the party into a crisis not just in the party but the more important fallout of this from the concerns of this article is that Mulayam Singh Yadav was made to realise that his ascendancy as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister depended on V.P.Singh. The two leaders had been on opposite poles in Uttar Pradesh for several years. He was chosen the leader of the Legislature Party on December 2, 1989 but only after V.P.Singh had conveyed his preference and ensured that the 30 Janata Dal MLAs from the Jan Morcha stream supported Mulayam Singh against Ajit Singh.
This convinced Mulayam to work on carving out a space for himself independent of the high command in Delhi. And he set out on this in real earnest. And when V.P.Singh landed himself in a crisis in August-September 1990[ix]
, Mulayam Singh threw his lot behind Chandrashekhar, leading his followers in the Janata Dal into the Samajwadi Janata Party.[x]
This move rendered Mulayam Singh’s Government in Uttar Pradesh too into a minority and it could be sustained only with support from the Congress Party, with 94 MLAs.[xi]
And hence, when the Chandrashekhar ministry fell, Mulayam Singh Yadav too recommended dissolution of the State Assembly and fresh elections.[xii]
This, indeed, was the worst of the many gambles for him. For the results of the May-June 1991 general elections were disastrous for him as well as the Samajwadi Janata Party. While the SJP won only 3 Lok Sabha seats, Mulayam Singh could win only 30 seats in the State Assembly. His role in containing the crowds that attempted to ravage the Babri Masjid in October-November 1990 had, without doubt, brought him close to the Muslim minority community across the State. But then, the unity of forces between the Yadavs and the Rajputs that helped the ascendancy of the Janata Dal and Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1989 was not there in 1991. While the Rajputs turned hostile in the post-Mandal context, the hysteria whipped up by the BJP over Ayodhya helped the party consolidate a pan-Hindu vote bank. Mulayam Singh, however, would lay the foundations for a long term strategy in this defeat. And this was a unity of the Other Backward Classes, the Muslims and the Dalits.
But then, he was determined by now to set out on a course where he would determine the details. And on October 4, 1992, he announced the formation of his own party at a rally held at the Begum Hazrat Mahal Park in Lucknow. And unlike in the past, Mulayam Singh Yadav was elected president of the party by the party workers who had assembled there at the venue. In other words, he was not nominated the president of the party by anyone as it happened in the past.
An illustration of his hold over the Samajwadi Party can be found in the official website[xiii]
of the party. A verbatim reproduction of the few lines will be appropriate in this context. It says: ``Yadav's standing ensures that he is in overall command. There is no challenger in sight. His wish is the Samajwadi Party's command. (emphasis added)’’ And as for the party’s structure, the website adds: ``Apart from Yadav, there is the vice-president, Janeshwar Mishra and eight general secretaries, including the powerful Amar Singh. The office-bearers are elected for a three-year term.’’
It is a different matter that the party holds regular sessions and goes through the process of ``electing’’ Mulayam Singh Yadav as its president. And the election, each time, is for a period of three years. The foundation conference elected Raghu Thakur, who entered the political scene as a young student leader in the course of the Total Revolution[xiv]
during the Seventies as its general secretary. He did not survive for long in the party and was expelled from the party when he raised his voice against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ``autocratic’’ ways of functioning. The immediate provocation for Thakur’s expulsion was his intervention in the party’s national executive against the importance given in the party to Sanjay Dalmia, an industrialist and among those who financed Mulayam Singh’s campaign in the initial years of the party’s existence. But then, events that immediately followed Thakur’s expulsion revealed that Dalmia was not the irritant. Mulayam Singh anointed Amar Singh[xv]
as the party’s general secretary in Raghu Thakur’s place. And Sanjay Dalmia was hardly seen anywhere in the Samajwadi Party’s scheme within months after that.
An interesting aside here would be the party’s philosophy: ``The Samajwadi Party,’’ according to the party’s official website, ``believes in democratic socialism and opposes the unrestricted entry of multinational companies into India. It stands for equality and prosperity for all. It is dead set against communal forces and favours a confederation of India-Pakistan-Bangladesh.’’ While the details about the party’s philosophy and its commitment to the high principles of socialism are outside the scope of this article, it will be relevant to recall in this context that Mulayam Singh Yadav, had, during his first term as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (between December 1989 and May 1991) ordered the transfer of a cement manufacturing unit owned by the State Government to Sanjay Dalmia. This move was opposed by the Left parties and the opposition was put down by resort to brute force including police firing against agitating workers.
Meanwhile, Amar Singh’s arrival in the Samajwadi Party helped Mulayam Singh Yadav in two ways. This former Congressman and socialite was also a resourceful person. While the source of all his resources is a question that begs an answer[xvi]
, he could enlist investors from Mumbai and elsewhere to develop Uttar Pradesh into an industrial hub. The Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation agenda set in motion since July 1991 and Mulayam Singh’s rhetoric to make Uttar Pradesh the most favoured destination for investors and thus change the face of this State, for long identified as backward and under-developed provided the context for Amar Singh’s rise in the Samajwadi Party as a leader, who at times appeared to be larger that Mulayam Singh Yadav. And when Mulayam Singh took over as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, for the third time, in August 2003, he made Amar Singh the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Development Corporation. This move had its implications; the most important one of them being the decision, by Mukesh Ambani[xvii]
, to set up a power generation unit in the State. Apart from Ambani, the Sahara Group, settled down in Lucknow and the concessions that were on offer from the State Government to these enterprises certainly knocked the bottom off the party’s claim to represent the socialist ideals enunciated by Ram Manohar Lohia.[xviii]
This, in any case, is beyond the scope of this article.
The second important fallout of Amar Singh’s entry and rise to prominence in the Samajwadi Party could be seen in the socio-political context. The OBC-Dalit alliance that was achieved when Mulayam Singh Yadav forged an electoral alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (headed by Kanshi Ram and led by Mayawati) in September 1993 helped the Samajwadi Party supremo become Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in November 1993. The November 1993 polls to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly were the first instance when Mulayam Singh could formulate his strategy without having to depend on leaders in New Delhi for approval. In other words, he had grown into the supreme leader of a party and this helped him tread an un-chartered course without any shackles.
The outcome of the polls simply came as a reassurance, to Mulayam Singh Yadav, that he was now in absolute control of a party rather than being saddled with a party and its leader in New Delhi. In a short span of four years (from December 1989 to November 1993), Mulayam had evolved into a leader in his own right. Recall the fact that he was at V.P.Singh’s mercy in December 1989. Though the political arrangement between the SP and the BSP collapsed in June 1995[xix]
and as a consequence, the social alliance between the OBCs and the Dalits that helped him become Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was also gone, the arrival of Amar Singh into the Samajwadi Party was significant. The BJP, that had benefited from a unity of the Upper Castes in the post-Mandal context began losing support of the Rajputs after it propped up Mayawati. And Amar Singh’s ascendancy helped Mulayam gain out of this.
This process was complete after Mayawati, as Chief Minister, once again with support from the BJP put Raja Raghuraj Pratap Singh in jail.[xx]
With Amar Singh in his stable, Mulayam Singh Yadav did not let go the opportunity and stood up in support of Raghuraj Pratap Singh. And he could resort to this without having to ruffle feathers in his party and without having to bother about how the others in his party would react to such a shift. Mulayam Singh Yadav was, indeed, the supreme leader of the Samajwadi Party and just as the party’s website declares, ``his wish is the Samajwadi Party's command.’’ In other words, Amar Singh, despite appearing in many ways, as the most important leader of the party, has been and continues to be a useful fixture in the party. In the present context, his caste identity – of being a Rajput – made him important in Mulayam Singh’s design. The most important point in this context is that Mulayam Singh Yadav could devise this strategy, without even provoking a murmur of protest from his party. In other words, this would not have been possible if Mulayam Singh had remained a chieftain of a national party.
The fact that Mulayam Singh had not let his stranglehold on the Samajwadi Party slip at any stage was revealed when he could nominate his son, Akhilesh Singh, as Samajwadi Party candidate in the by-election to the Kannauj Lok Sabha constituency after he vacated the seat soon after the September 1999 elections. Mulayam Singh had won from Sambhal and Kannauj and vacated the latter. Akhilesh Singh won the election and was appointed Deputy Leader of the party in the Lok Sabha. And after he took over as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister in August 2003 and hence had to vacate his Lok Sabha seat, Mulayam fielded none other than his own brother, Ram Gopal Yadav from Sambhal. All this clearly show that the party is nothing but a fief of the leader and Mulayam Singh Yadav ensures that by way of placing his own brothers and his son in important positions. As for Amar Singh, the fact is that he is only a means for Mulayam Singh Yadav to expand the party’s social base as well as to find finances to run the party. And lest it be mistaken, after roping in Raja Raghuraj Pratap Singh into his party’s fold, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s dependence on Amar Singh to reach out to the Thakurs is less than what it was when the socialite-socialist joined the Samajwadi Party sometimes between 1996 and 1998.
To cut a long story short now, the Samajwadi Party was founded on October 4, 1992 by Mulayam Singh Yadav with the sole objective of promoting himself. And in the 16 years that the party has existed, he seems to have achieved this with such ease. He learnt his early lessons in political management from Charan Singh: That it pays to remain a marginal player in the political arena as long as one is willing to give ideology the short shrift.[i]
Mulayam Singh Yadav was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh first between December 1991 and later on between December 1993 and June 1995. And for the third time between September 2003 and June 2007.[ii]
Dr.Lohia had led a campaign against land tax on farmers who held less than Six and half acres land. Mulayam Singh Yadav was a participant in a demonstration for this demand. He was arrested and sent to jail for the first time.[iii]
While Charan Singh’s political game was guided and facilitated by what can be described as carving out a space for marginal players in the mainstream and creating a space for negotiating power with anyone and everyone, Mulayam Singh Yadav set out on a course from where he could render an ideological veneer to such negotiations. This probably explains the difference between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ajit Singh (Charan Singh’s son) in the past decade. It is also appropriate to explain the BSP in Uttar Pradesh today. While the BSP fits into the Charan Singh model (of building itself into a force on the marginal player framework), Mulayam Singh Yadav has ensured a sense of political legitimacy by way of ensuring that his actions are guided by a certain ideology and an image that he is committed, in his core, to secular values. Incidentally, Mulayam and Ajit Singh are allies at the time of writing this.[iv]
Madhu Limaye, an important ideologue of the Socialist Party and the most influential thinker in that tradition after Lohia, sought Morarji Desai, the Janata Party Prime Minister, to drop Atal Behari Vajpayee and L.K.Advani from the Union Cabinet as long as they insisted on their association with the RSS. This dispute, popularly known as the dual membership issue came to haunt the Janata Party since July 1978 and ended in a split in the Janata Party in July 1979. Morarji Desai refused to agree with Madhu Limaye and allowed the issue to snowball into a crisis and his own fall from the Prime Minister’s post. Madhu Limaye’s logic was that the anti-Congress surge witnessed in the 1977 general elections cannot be sustained as long as the Jan Sangh remained a part of the Janata Party; the reason was that an anti-Congress platform cannot survive without permanently retaining the Muslim support base and that with the Jan Sangh in the Janata fold, it will only be a matter of time before the Congress party revives its traditional support base among the Muslims. While there were several other factors, most of them being individual egos, that finally contributed to the decimation of the Janata Party, the dual membership issue was one that was deeply rooted in an ideological and strategic thinking. It is also relevant that the immediate provocation to the split came from Uttar Pradesh when Charan Singh ordered Ram Naresh Yadav to sack the Jan Sangh elements from the Uttar Pradesh cabinet. Further discussion on this does not concern the subject matter of this paper. But it is pertinent to point out that Mulayam Singh Yadav’s emergence in Uttar Pradesh through the nineties were guided by this political strategy in the same way as Lalu Prasad Yadav’s emergence in the Bihar political scene. [v]
The Swatantra Party, born in 1959 after the Congress Party’s Nagpur session where it committed itself (more in a rhetorical sense) to the idea of cooperative farming was indeed the only party in independent India’s political history to have committed overtly to the principles of free market (against Nehruvian socialism) and at the same time unflinching in its commitment to the idea of secularism as perceived from the Western and modernist sense.[vi]
H.N.Bahuguna did not participate in the convention on October 11, 1988 convention at Bangalore where the Lok Dal, Janata Party and the Jan Morcha merged to form the Janata Dal. Mulayam Singh, however, broke ranks with Bahuguna to be at the convention.[vii]
In the complex socio-political mosaic that influences the polls in this region, the expulsion of V.P.Singh from the Congress party in 1988 led the Rajputs to leave that party. And this social group that had supported the Congress for long (against the Socialist Party whose social base was predominantly constituted by the intermediate castes) began looking for a re-alignment. This came about after the Socialists and the dominant sections in the Lok Dal merged into the Janata Dal that came into existence around the personality of V.P.Singh. And the new slogan was Raghuvanshi-Yaduvanshi bhai bhai; anya jaat kahan se aayi! (There is no place for others when the Rajputs and yadavs agree to behave as brothers).[viii]
As Leader of Opposition in the Council, Mulayam Singh Yadav was a trenchant critic of V.P.Singh, who was at that time in the Congress and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The debates between the two in the Legislature at that time will reveal the deep animosity that Mulayam had towards V.P.Singh. And yet he joined the Dal and proclaimed V.P.Singh as his leader only because Mulayam Singh knew how important it was to have the Rajputs along with his own OBC base in the Uttar Pradesh political scenario.[ix]
The crisis could be seen as having been triggered by V.P.Singh’s decision to implement some of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission (reservation for Other Backward Castes in Central Government jobs) on August 8, 1990, the BJP setting out on an intense campaign on the Ayodhya issue (and L.K.Advani setting out on his rath yatra) and eventually the fall of the National Front Government in November 1990).[x]
Chandrashekhar became Prime Minister in November 1990, commanding a splinter group of the Janata Dal consisting of only 44 MPs and the Government was sustained by support from the Congress party from outside. The Government fell after Rajiv Gandhi announced withdrawal of support in March 1991.[xi]
The Congress party’s strength has now dwindled to a mere ** in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly after the February 2002 elections.[xii]
The Congress party had not withdrawn support to the Mulayam Government then. Mulayam Singh’s decision was just a pre-emptive strike.[xiii]
Jayaprakash Narayan, influenced by the student movement in Gujarat against the corrupt Chimanbhai Patel Government gave a call for a movement against corruption in Bihar in 1973 and went about defining the campaign as Total Revolution. While this campaign was the strongest in Bihar, it also drew a section of the youth and students from many other University campuses across the country and most of them who belonged to the Samata Yuvjan Sabha and followers of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia and his socialist ideas joined the political mainstream through the Janata Party in 1977 and the Janata Dal in 1988. Raghu Thakur was among those who went along with Mulayam Singh Yadav when he set up the Samajwadi Party in October 1992.[xv]
Even a casual observer of the national political scene during the decade between 1996 and 2006 will have noticed Amar Singh and his importance in the drawing room manipulations in the national capital during this period. And those familiar with the political history of Uttar Pradesh since the Seventies recall Amar Singh as having been an aide of Vir Bahadur Singh, a Congressman from Gorakhpur (in Eastern Uttar Pradesh). Singh, who began as Minister for Public Works in Uttar Pradesh had evolved, within a decade, to become as Chief Minister of the State in September 1985. His rise, according to political commentators, was facilitated by the enormous resources he had managed to accumulate as Public Works Minister and use that to muster support of a large number of Congress party MLAs against Narayan Dutt Tiwari, who was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for a year after August 1984. This has to do with the culture of dissidence and the high command syndrome that had marked the Congress party’s record since independence. Of relevance to us is that Amar Singh had risen to become a member of the AICC thanks to V.B.Singh and after his death landed as K.K.Birla’s aide in New Delhi. He remained an AICC member from Uttar Pradesh and also in the inner circle of Madhavrao Scindia before arriving in the Samajwadi Party as its general secretary. [xvi]
If gossips in the political circles could be taken as conclusive evidence, Amar Singh, who hails from a lower middle class moorings in Azamgarh (in Uttar Pradesh) had evolved into a confidante of a number of leaders, including V.B.Singh and had thus managed to command the wealth that those leaders had made abusing their political office. The point is that there is very little as evidence other than such tales in this regard.[xvii]
This would lead to w serious rift in the Ambani family and to a partition of the company between Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani. Mukesh Ambani, meanwhile, was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an independent member supported by the Samajwadi Party. This squabble in the business enterprise was, apart from other factors, the fallout of the antagonism that developed between the Congress party and the Samajwadi Party in which Amar Singh was an important factor. [xviii]
Lohia was a staunch advocate of appropriate technology and a trenchant critique of mega-projects. He had consistently articulated against capital intensive technology and was unflinching in his criticism against the state facilitating investments by the capitalist class. It is another matter that Mulayam Singh makes it a point to appropriate the Lohiaite legacy every now and then. It is also a fact that a large number of Lohia’s followers are now a part of the Samajwadi Party. The party vice-president, Janeshwar Mishra being one among them. [xix]
The SP-BSP coalition Government in Uttar Pradesh was brought down after Mayawati announced withdrawal of support. Although the BSP underwent a split after that and a section stayed on to support Mulayam Singh Yadav as Chief Minister, the numbers were not sufficient to sustain the Government. And Mulayam Singh was replaced by Mayawati as Chief Minister. The BSP leader was supported by the BJP. This arrangement too gave way within a short period of four months.[xx]
Known as Raja bhaiya, this legatee of the Kunta principality in the Pratapgarh district, was charged under various provisions of POTA, a Preventive Detention Law enacted by the Union Government. His detention provoked an angry reaction among the Rajputs and the BJP suffered substantive erosion of its base because the Mayawati Government survived on the BJP’s support. This, indeed, was the prime factor that led to the BJP’s dismal show in the May 2004 Lok Sabha elections.