Independent Rajya Sabha member, Amar Singh, who died in a Singapore hospital after a prolonged kidney ailment on Saturday, was one of the more colourful politicians who at one time exercised a disproportionately high influence in the fragmented national polity. Given his gift of the gab, his ability to befriend VVIPs from the diverse worlds of Bollywood, finance, sports, and even media, Singh often thrust himself in the centre-stage of national events. Like when in 1999 he foiled Sonia Gandhi’s ascent to the prime ministerial gaddi after her claim in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan that ‘I have 272 MPs’. She never forgave that audacity. Not unlike a whole host of political operators which abound in all parties, Singh’s too was a rags-to-riches story. Starting out as a Youth Congress worker in Calcutta in the early 70s, he came into his own only when he embraced the Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh. And would eventually come to lead him by the nose, stitching up alliances, wheeling-and-dealing freely exploiting Mulayam’s position as UP Chief Minister and later as Defence Minister. He was a quintessential political-fixer which every party values for their ability to get things done uninformed by any qualms. Ultimately, his ‘success’ proved his undoing, jealous colleagues and rival operators exposing his unseemly side. Amitabh Bachchan, whom he claimed to have given a second life after rescuing him from near-bankruptcy from his maiden foray into business dumped him like a hot potato. So did his wife, Jaya, who owed her Rajya Sabha membership to him. In the end the only one who stuck by him was Jaya Prada, a former actor who too joined Samajwadi Party only to leave it with her patron and contest unsuccessfully on the BJP ticket against Singh’s bitter foe Azam Khan in Rampur. Actually, Singh’s and Khan’s video and audio tapes, going at each other with no expletives spared, reveals their true faces. In his last years, Singh was marginalised by the Samajwadi Party. Khan, meanwhile, as its Muslim face, still holds sway in the Yadav-centric outfit.