Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ajit Singh: From Satrap to small player in UP politics, frittered away Charan Singh's legacy

Once upon a time, Ajit Singh, was considered a major figure in North Indian politics.

In fact, in late 80s, it was common for people to remark that if not Prime Minister of future, he would certainly be UP's chief minister.

After all, he had the legacy of none other than his father Chaudhary Charan Singh, the influential Jat leader who had become prime minister.

Ajit Singh was the unquestionable leader of Jats, a community that wield(ed) influence. He also had support of Muslims.

However, Muslim support was something he always took for granted.

In Janata Dal, he had tiffs with other leaders as he always considered himself a 'national and big leader'.

Though Muslims were solidly behind him, he rarely raised voice or stood with them.With the emergence of SP and BSP, Muslim voters got more options. Jat support alone couldn't ensure him victory anymore.

Upper Caste leadership was no longer enough for politicians to become CM. While other backward caste leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh and Mayavati became chief ministers, many times in UP, Ajit Singh, lost the race.

He stood nowhere compared to these leaders. He raised the demand for 'Harit Pradesh' because of his 'influence' in the region, but the fact was that he was no longer having influence in even Western UP or his pocket-borough.

No one anticipated then, that Ajit Singh, whose father had stitched a rainbow coalition of castes, would end up losing the turf, so easily. While politicians are known for party-hopping, Ajit Singh took it to another level.

Ajit Singh was prepared to bargain with anyone and to such an extent that he lost his image and credibility. Though he managed to become union minister often, his influence was waning very fast.

RLD [Rashtriya Lok Dal] was no longer a force to reckon in UP. Those who have closely worked with him and were his most ardent supporters, feel the most for him. His fall is an interesting aspect for students of politics, particularly, in North India.

While politicians build on legacies and are creating dynasties, Ajit Singh frittered away Chaudhary Charan Singh's legacy. He tries his best to stay relevant but the reality is that he has become totally irrelevant in UP's politics.