Amar Singh: left to fighting for lost causes?

By Sharat Pradhan, IANS,

Lucknow : Ousted Samajwadi party leader Amar Singh, who for years remained the last word in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party, appears to be fighting a losing battle as he seeks an independent political identity after a year that saw his ouster from the party whose public face he once was.

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Having made his way into the Samajwadi Party from the top and having failed to gain entry in any other established political outfit, Amar Singh is struggling to play a second political innings.

He has taken up the issue of statehood for ‘Purvanchal’ (eastern Uttar Pradesh) as his launch pad, for which he undertook a month-long march from Allahabad. It is to culminate at Gorakhpur Thursday. Holding the banner of his newly-formed Lok Manch, Amar Singh is addressing rallies in different districts in the hope that the issue so close to the hearts of the poverty-ridden populace of the vast region would eventually propel them to rally behind him.

However, the umpteen rallies since he launched the yatra have not proved to be truly encouraging. Despite having pumped in huge resources, Amar Singh has not been able to either draw sufficient crowds or get his desired publicity.

“If Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya were to be just waving from their balcony, all newspapers and news channels would flash that on page one. Here I am raising such an important issue of Purvanchal, and no media is ready to accord suitable space,” he says at almost every rally.

He defends his call to further break up Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and give statehood to the state’s eastern region, which is to be called Purvanchal.

He cites the example of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, which came up in 2000 by breaking up Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh respectively, as proof that Purvanchal could also be formed — some day.

“If areas spread across just four Lok Sabha constituencies can be given statehood, then why not Purvanchal, which has as many as 28 Lok Sabha and and 147 state assembly constituencies?”

But he cannot explain why he did not advocate the issue when he virtually called the shots during the two regimes of Mulayam Singh?

Amar Singh accuses political parties of “exploiting” the Purvanchal region, which he says is steeped in economic backwardness and poverty, in comparison to the rest of the sprawling state. Ironically, he condemns the sale of rich state-run sugar mills for a song although he was the one who initiated the privatization move when Mulayam Singh was chief minister.

But his regular bashing of Mulayam Singh is proving counter-productive.

“If Amar Singh thinks he can absolve himself of the responsibility of Mulayam’s doings, he is mistaken. Who does not know that he was a parallel power centre in Samajwadi Party?” a Mulayam confidant, who declined to be identified, told IANS.

“It was only after Mulayam Singh showed him the door that Amar Singh started accusing him of promoting dynastic politics. Why did he not raise his voice earlier?” asked Mulayam Singh’s younger brother Shivpal Yadav, leader of the opposition in the state assembly.

Dismissing Amar Singh as an “opportunist”, Yadav told IANS: “If Amar Singh thinks he can make political gains by training his guns at his mentor, a man who gave him political status, let him please himself. He is only exposing himself.”

Despite all the effort and toil, Amar Singh has failed to muster mass support for his cause. He is still dependent largely on his Bollywood pals Jaya Prada and Sanjay Dutt. Jaya Prada boosts Amar Singh by repeatedly saying that if and when the Purvanchal state is formed, “his name will go down in history as the man who spearheaded the campaign”.

But will that happen? As they say, it is a million dollar question.

(Sharat Pradhan can be contacted at [email protected])