It was the first week of July 2008 when the Left parties had withdrawn their support from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) over differences on the nuclear deal.
The Manmohan Singh-led UPA I govt was on the verge of collapse and had to face a vote of confidence before the Parliament on 22 July. On July 9, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh met the then president Pratibha Patil with a letter of support from 39 MPs plus an independent. This unusual alliance had shocked the people including the staunch supporters of SP but not to those who had known the architect of this alliance closely.
After all, it was Singh who had installed Mulayam Singh government in Uttar Pradesh in 2003 despite SP lacking majority following the collapse of the Mayawati-government after BJP’s withdrawal of support. That MSY ruled till 2007 and completed the term is a history; thanks to Amar Singh.
After highend drama in the Parliament, the Manmohan Singh government was saved and also the nuclear deal. That Amar Singh and Congress both were accused of the “cash for vote” scam is another story.
The Chanakya and most powerful politician of those days, as his critics used to call him, Amar Singh (64), passed away on Saturday in Singapore after a prolonged illness. Three hours before his death, Singh, who was a serving Rajya Sabha member, had wished his followers on Twitter on the Bakrid and Bal Gangadhar Tilak Jayanti.
At his peak, he had friends in every political party, as Defence minister Rajnath Singh mentioned in his tweet, and in every walk of life including industrialists Anil Ambani and Subrata Roy to actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Prada.
Friends or foes?
Singh hailed from Azamgarh but studied in Kolkata. With a law degree in hand, he set-up Energy Development Corporation Ltd in Kolkata; albeit he never talked much about this firm. As per its website, he was its chairman. Singh saw a phenomenal rise in politics due to his networking skills across the sectors. He was often seen in Page 3 parties and had played cameos in two Bollywood films — ‘Humara Dil Apke Paas Hai’ and ‘JD’.
It was Singh, who inducted glam and glitz into a regional party like SP which had a support base of backward communities.
Sharp but shorttempered, Singh later had a fallout with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and was expelled in 2010 along with Jaya Prada.
The former SP leader, however, had praised party chief MSY while he was leaving, with a parting note: “I am blessed by him... he has given me liberation.”
He floated his own outfit but failed to make a mark.
He returned to the party-fold in 2016. However, things were different this time around. As expected, Singh’s homecoming lasted a short span, for he faced expulsion a second time in 2017 after Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav took reigns of the party.
Singh and the Bachchans were very close at one point. He had a fallout with them as well though he had bailed them out when they were struggling with massive financial losses at their film production house ABCL.
But in 2016, their relationship took on strains after Mr Singh went public with his complaints against Jaya Bachchan, a Samajwadi Party leader.
In February this year, Amar Singh released a video expressing "regret" over his behaviour towards Amitabh Bachchan and his family. The former Samajwadi Party leader recorded and posted the video on his Facebook account after receiving Mr Bachchan's message on the death anniversary of his father.