Thursday, January 28, 2010

'Thakur' Amar Singh for Rajput resurgence in Indian Politics!

The decline in influence of Thakur leaders in Indian politics has been a cause of concern among the once-dominant Rajput community.

And Amar Singh's visible haste in moving away from Samajwadi Party and Mulayam Singh, is an indication that the suave-socialite now wants to play the pivotal role for Rajput resurgence.

He is already one of the most prominent faces of the community in the country. The fact that major North Indian states where Thakurs earlier used to hold political clout, have undergone a sea change in post-mandal politics, and there is a void in the leadership of the Rajputs seems to have stirred Amar.

It's difficult to predict whether he will succeed. However, Amar Singh seems to have taken the plunge and has burnt his boats. He may not be a leader of grassroots but has certain qualities, to which we will come later in this blog post.


Once Bollywood was so fixated with the thakurs that in every other Hindustani movie, the Thakur was branded as a villain and for decades shown as an oppressor. [Of course there were exceptions like the heroic Sanjeev Kumar playing the pro-poor Thakur in Sholay.]

In fact, Thakurs got more than their share of blame. But never in the past Thakurs seemed so concerned about the lack of tall Thakur leaders in the country. And it is indeed ironical that the tallest Thakur leader VP Singh became instrumental in changing the Indian political scenerio.

Singh, during his brief term as Prime Minister, implemented the Mandal report, which changed the complexion of Indian polity.

Thakurs, who aren't numerically a strong force, lost the political space. Backwards like Yadavs and Kurmis, Dalits, Tribal and other OBCs who were much more numerous soon took over.

Chandra Shekhar became Prime Minister for four months. Arjun Singh was one of the strongest Thakur leaders and came close to becoming Prime Minister.

The days of Vir Bahadur Singh, who was Chief Minister of UP, and Digvijay Singh ruling Madhya Pradesh [or Virbhadra Singh in Himachal Pradesh] are gone.

Of course, Raman Singh is at the helm in Chhattisgarh but his influence is limited. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is not a Thakur but belogs to the Kirar caste, an OBC community. The number of Rajput MLAs and MPs has gone down significantly in the last two decades across the country.

Thakur stalwarts like Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Arjun Singh have been either shunned or sidelined in their respective parties. Jaswant Singh and Rajnath are also gone from the scene. Do we even hear of Karan Singh these days?


It is in this context that the need for Thakurs to play a part in politics is being felt dearly. It is quite clear that Kshatriya organisations at district and town levels are giving such feelers that they would back Amar Singh wholeheartedly.

After all, it is not possible for a Thakur in dynasty-ruled Congress to play a major role. Amar Singh, with his manoeuvres, connections and other qualities, can either head a political party supported by Thakurs or lead a loose group of Thakur MPs.

If one does focus on his statement published in a post on his blog, then it's crystal clear that Singh aims at forging an alliance of Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) or Most Backward Castes (MBCs) who abhor the OBC dominance.

Yes, SP rule was perceived as Yadav raj and BSP rule appears Dalit monarcy. But can he get the necessary support. Amar Singh now says that he would dedicate himself to Kshatriyas and Nishads, Rajbhars, Nonia, Vishwakarma, Pal, Teli and caste groups like Kashyap, Kumhar et al.

It may appear a fantasy but there are signs that his community members want him to play a pan-Indian role. Given the strong sense of clanship among Thakurs, even if they belong to diverse political spectrum, this is a possibility.

However, electoral victory is not easy. Thakur population is relatively small and given the feudal influence, there are still resentment against Thakur leaders in rural areas. The million dollar question that how Amar can act as magnet to the neglected micro-minuscule groups of EBCs that number 1-3% each? [Now he doesn't talk about Muslims, naturally.]

Brahmins had also suffered electorally after Mandal commission report but because they are a strong caste group, numbering around 9% in UP and 5-8% in other North Indian states, their alignment can benefit any coalition and thus they are again being wooed.

Singh has some strengths. Apart from the ability to recall and recite couplet for any occasion, he even otherwise has a way with words and knows how to stay in news. Sections of Muslims praise him as he was the only man who spoke courageously after the Batla House encounter and visited Jamia Nagar, at a time, when no Muslim leader was visible on the streets.

It is a fact that he stands by his friends and has certain characteristics which endear him to others. Otherwise there are many more cash-rich and connected persons in this country but none of them can boast of dedicated friendships of the likes of Anil Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Prada and Sanjay Dutt among others.

Especially in the class of celebrities where people have huge egos and nobody bothers much for the other, he goes the extra mile and takes care of his friends, which attracts them towards Singh. Samajwadi Party leaders and workers seem happy that Singh is gone. But the SP has a tough battle ahead.

For Amar Singh. He is testing waters and is touring UP, gauging the support of his community and other groups before taking a decision. It may not change the shape of Indian politics but Thakurs are poised to support him in his move.

We've just heard of Kshatriya Chetna Jagran Rath Yatra. Many more might follow soon. UP has seen Jat leader Chaudhary Charan Singh's successful AJGAR [Ahit, Jat, Gujar and Rajput] & Mulayam Singh's MY [Muslim-Yadav] formulae in the past. Will Amar's caste calculations work? Let's wait and watch this interesting man.