Rajya Sabha MP and former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, 64, passed away on Saturday. He was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Singapore for several months.
Amar Singh has been an intriguing character throughout his career in indian politics. Despite not holding any major administrative posts ever, he was a person to whom even the tallest leaders looked up to in times of trouble. Political commentators and common people alike have often wondered about the control which Amar Singh commanded in the political corridors of Delhi and Lucknow. In Lucknow he was the “Kingmaker,” and in Delhi “The ultimate middleman” who could make even the most impossible equations into a reality. Undoubtedly, Amar Singh has made Indian politics interesting and even added some entertainment quotient into it.
— Saswat Panigrahi (@SaswatPanigrahi) August 1, 2020
He however, never kept himself confined to political corridors alone. He was also very close to film stars and industrials. A man of many shades, he was indeed a man of many colors. As the nation bids goodbye to the one and only Amar Singh, we look behind at some interesting facts about him.
1- Spent early life in Kolkata
Known as the face of UP in Delhi, Amar Singh spent his childhood and early adulthood in far away Kolkata. Born in a Uttar Pradesh, Singh’s family soon moved to Kolkata’s trading hub West Bengal with family. His family had a business of hardwares. He completed his schooling from Kolkata’s Saraswat Kshatriya Vidyalaya (Khatri school), and then went to the St. Xaviers College for higher education.
Singh got first taste of politics in 1885 when he was assigned the job to look after the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Vir Bahadur Singh, who was in the city to attend a program organised by the Thakur community of Kolkata. Impressed by Singh’s organizational skills, the erstwhile UP Chief Minister invited him to Lucknow. The young Amar Singh made no mistakes in realizing the potential of the invitation.
2 – Remained loyal to Mulayam till the end
Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh knew each other from a long time due to their association with UP’s politics. But it was only in 1996 that the erstwhile Defense Minister in Deve Gowda cabinet, Mulayam Singh Yadav decided to make Singh his Second-in-command. Amar Singh formally joined SP in the same year and the rest is history.
It was under Singh’s mentorship that the Samajwadi party quickly transformed from a rural caste based conservative party to a regional to force to recon with. The alliance between the two proved to be mutually beneficial for both, as Yadav again recaptured UP’s highest position while Singh found himself in power corridors of Delhi as the spokesman of SP.
The relations between the two sinked briefly in 2010s. Though in 2016, Yadav once brought his old right hand man back. In the same year, SP witnessed an internal feud with the party getting divided into two camps with one being led by father Mulayam Singh Yadav and another by son Akhilesh Yadav. During the turmoil Amar Singh displayed his old loyalties by standing firmly by his old friend. Though Akhilesh camp eventually emerged victorious and Singh faced expulsion in 2017.
3 – Beat Mani Shankar Aiyar black and blue
The power corridors of Delhi which are used to verbal battles witnessed rather unusual scenes when Amar Singh engaged into a full fledged brawl with Congress’ Mani Shankar Aiyar, before an audience of political heavyweights.
According to the reports, both Shankar and Singh were in attendance at dinner party hosted by Satish Gujraral (brother of former Prime Minister IK Gujral). Aiyar, who as per Singh was “drunk,” started talking to him in “objectionable” language and soon resorted to “abusing.” Singh on the other hand remained calm till Aiyar decided to turn his fury towards Mulayam Singh Yadav. According to reports, Aiyar was disgruntled at Samajwadi party as he believed they were not supporting Sonia Gandhi’s candidature for Prime Minister’s post.
Finally when Aiyar hurled abuses at Yadav, Amar Singh lost his cool. He pinned Aiyar on the floor and started beating him black and blue. That night, Aiyar left with a few bruises on his face and an embarrassing expirence which would haunt him for years to come.
4 – Brought glamor to UP politics
Amar Singh is also credited for bringing glamor to the otherwise conservative politics of Uttar Pradesh. It was under him that many a faces from the Bollywood made their way into politics, this include names like Jaya Prada.
5 – Beloved of Billionaires
Not only the B-town, Mulayam Singh also had friends among the country’s richest. One name that readily comes into mind is that of Sahara Shri Subrata Roy. Much like Amar Singh, Roy also started his career under the tutelage of Vir Bahadur Singh, and following a similar path he too found himself under the umbrella of an emerging Mulayam Singh by the stroke of the new century. Both Roy and Singh were very close to each other. It was this duo which bailed Amitabh Bachchan out after his business venture bombed, incurring huge losses.
Another person who was very close to Amar Singh was Anil Ambani. As a matter of fact, at one point, the families of Amar Singh, Anil Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan were seen as one extended family.
6 – Savior of Nuclear Deal
Amar Singh earned the title of “Sankat Mohan (Savior),” for the role played by him during one of the biggest political crises witnessed in the previous decade, the nuclear deal. The Communist Party withdrew its support from the Manmohan Singh led UPA government due to disagreements over the deal. The government was on the brink of collapse, when Amar Singh emerged as the savior. On his insistence, Samajwadi party radically changed stance on the deal, offered support to the dwindling government and saved the deal.
7 – Started leaning towards BJP
After his expulsion from SP, Amar Singh was seen leaning towards the BJP. The whispers turned louder when he became the only politician from Opposition benches to attend the Sangh event ‘Future of Bharat – A RSS perspective’ held at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan in 2018.
8 – Donated family properties to RSS
A few years ago, Singh donated his ancestral properties worth Rs 15 crore to RSS organisation Seva Bharati. Confirming the move in 2018, Singh said “By giving my property in memory of my late father, I have tried to contribute to the efforts of service to the society.”
9 – Became a Chowkidar
In the run up to 2019 parliament elections, Amar Singh made his leanings clear by changing his Twitter handle in support of PM Modi’s #MainBhiChowkidar campaign.