Amar Singh is back in SP, but will he have his way with Akhilesh Yadav?

Having made several futile attempts in the past, this time he tapped the most vulnerable route to gain another entry.

 |  6-minute read |   04-07-2016
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You give them an inch, they take a yard. The adage amply explains what Amar Singh is now up to in the Samajwadi Party, where he managed to regain entry as well as a Rajya Sabha berth, after an inglorious expulsion six years ago.

The man, who acquired the reputation of the most influential "fixer" in Indian politics, and who once virtually ruled the Samajwadi Party, has clearly won the first round against his opponents by getting a foothold in the Yadav domain.

shivmar_070416015610.jpg Amar Singh (right) celebrates his election to Rajya Sabha with Shivpal Yadav (left).

Even stiff opposition from Akhilesh Yadav, his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav - the SP general secretary who also heads the party in the Rajya Sabha - as well as UP's second most powerful minister Azam Khan, could not stall Amar's return.

Having made several futile attempts in the past, this time he tapped the most vulnerable route to gain another entry.

And sure enough, his rapport with Shivpal Yadav as well as bureaucrat Anita Singh, known for her clout with Mulayam Singh Yadav, came in handy to get the desired push.

After all, his desperation to acquire a political spot was rising as he had failed in his bid to grab a slot in any other political party in UP.

Having tested the waters in an independent political organisation that he formed during his exile from SP, he eventually bagged an entry into Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal, a party limited to a small pocket in Western UP.

But that only brought him more humiliation as he lost miserably in the election he contested on a ticket he had bargained for.

Eventually emerging as a winner and an urge to regain prominence was natural for Amar, and the internal rift in the Yadav "parivar" has worked in his favour to get to his ultimate destination.

And sure enough, this was not the first time he has taken advantage of family feuds to make inroads into the fray and take centrestage.

Having earned much infamy for forging divides within some leading families, including that of the Ambanis, Amar is now trying to cast himself in a reverse mould by building bridges in a divided house.

He demonstrated this by making it a point to attend the book release function of Ram Gopal Yadav's autobiography in Lucknow held last week.

Knowing he is detested by both Ram Gopal and Azam Khan, he not only made it a point to reach out to them, but also dragged an estranged Shivpal to the function. Amar Singh surprised everyone by entering the venue with Shivpal in tow.

In an obvious bid to keep away from the show, Shivpal had planned to push off to Etawah, but Amar persuaded him to cancel the programme.

What had peeved Shivpal was the reversal of the merger of Mukhtar Ansari's Qaumi Ekta Dal with Samajwadi Party, which was crafted by him after a nod from Mulayam.

Amar Singh took advantage of the situation to project himself as a well-wisher of the Yadav family. It was another matter that during the days of his exile, he never minced words in spewing venom against the entire Yadav clan including Mulayam.

It was only over the past few months, since he started making systematic inroads into the family again, that he stopped his anti-Yadav tirade. During these months, he would ensure his presence at every important Samajwadi Party or Yadav family function, even at the cost of being ignored by most of the members.

Every time inquisitive mediapersons asked him whether he was staging a return to the party , he would say, "I live in Mulayam Singh Yadav's heart" or come up with statements like, "I am a "'Mulayamvaadi' - not Samajwadi."

His game was always very clear - to get a nomination to the Rajya Sabha for which he moved heaven and earth. And once that objective was fulfilled, the next step was to retrieve his ultimate clout in the party and government.

With a gift of the gab and adeptness in the art of snatching media attention, he had already managed to remain in the spotlight.

Well-entrenched in the party even as he was yet to achieve his goal of getting to don the mantle of a key office-bearer (he was national general secretary in his earlier phase), the shrewd wheeler-dealer in him is desperate to also extract his pound of flesh in matters of governance.

Evidently, what he was therefore trying hard to do was to get a man of his choice installed on the top bureaucratic position. And sure enough his pick was a bureaucrat, widely perceived as the state's "most corrupt IAS officer", who Akhilesh disapproves of for the same reason.

Interestingly, the Amar Singh CDs that went viral during Mulayam's last stint as CM (2002-2007) carried a very incriminating conversation of the bureaucrat with Amar Singh. Besides being known for his disproportionate assets, the bureaucrat figured in the list of senior IAS officers who were summarily repatriated by the Union government.

With Amar Singh joining the bandwagon of Shivpal and the chief minister's all-powerful principal secretary Anita Singh, who were pitching for this bureaucrat to be elevated as chief secretary, Akhilesh was visibly under tremendous pressure.

Obviously, he is aware of the controversy that he was bound to get embroiled in if he were to allow the Shivpal-Anita-Amar trio to have their way in getting their "own" chief secretary.

After all, with a "yes man" on the top job - Amar Singh - could achieve his ultimate goal of re-establishing his hold over the government.

Who doesn't know how Amar Singh would call the shots in all key matters, particularly related to the allotment of industrial and commercial plots under UP State Industrial and Development Corporation (UPSIDC), Noida, Greater Noida as well as Ghaziabad, Meerut and other important places known as UP's "goldmines".

Surely, the situation looks tougher than the Mukhtar Ansari party merger episode against which Akhilesh stood like a rock.

As of now, he has deferred the decision by flying off to London to celebrate a quiet birthday with his wife and children, while letting the next man in-line take charge as the officiating chief secretary.

How he acts upon his return will determine the answer to the crucial question - whether he was in command or ready to give in to Amar Singh, who was clearly desperate to join the league of five de facto CMs - Mulayam, Shivpal, Ram Gopal, Azam, Anita - bossing over a humble Akhilesh.

Writer

Sharat Pradhan Sharat Pradhan @sharatpradhan21

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst based in Lucknow.

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