Amar Singh, the erstwhile power broker of India, who had hobnobbed with the who’s who in politics, business and the glamour world, was in the news recently. The expelled Samajwadi Party leader and his protege Jaya Prada have become a catalyst for a re-look into the anti-defection law by the Supreme Court.
The now down-and-out Amar Singh was a successful entrepreneur in the political field. While people sneer at him for being a ‘dalal’, who had great rapport with all the leading politicians of India, the man made the most of it for 13 long years when his political career was at its peak.
When Singh joined Mulayam Singh Yadav, he became an MP and from there began his meteoric rise when he tried to put Mulayam on the national political stage. During this time he befriended industrialist Parmeshwar Godrej and Amitabh Bachchan and became chief mentor to Subrata Roy, the founder of Sahara India Pariwar.
His long journey from Azamgarh to Lucknow and ultimately to New Delhi, won him many high-and-mighty friends. With a gift of gab, and a peculiar charm, Singh was close to politician Madhav Rao Scindia, media barons KK Birla and Sameer Jain, Bollywood’s first family, the Bachchans, and industrialist Ambanis.
But when he was arrested for the cash-for-vote scam, everyone dropped him like a hot brick. He was thrown out of the Samajwadi Party in February 2010. Taking a cue from the political ouster, Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Ambani dumped him unceremoniously, leaving Amar Singh in a bitterness that he never got out of.
But what pained Singh the most was not his loss of political power, as much as his “big brother” Amitabh Bacchchan severing the tie with him. Singh was, after all, instrumental in helping a sinking Bachhachan and his business in the late 90s.
When Amar Singh met Bachchan, his comeback film, Mrityudata, was a major flop, he had tax hassles, his famous residence Pratiksha in Mumbai was about to be sold, and his company Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd (ABCL) was in debt. Amar Singh, seeing this was a great chance to be associated with the legend of Indian cinema, bailed Amitabh out.
“For non-payment of Rs 4 crore, they got after Amitabh. I felt he didn’t deserve this,” Singh had said. The Bachchans reciprocated by inducting Singh into the family fold, so much so, that invites whether it be a wedding or a funeral in the Bacchchan family, mentioned Amar Singh and his wife as family. Giddy with the august association, Singh got Jaya Bachchan a Rajya Sabha seat on behalf of the Samajwadi Party.
When the Bofors scandal broke, the Bachchan family went to Switzerland, and Amitabh was implicated. Amar Singh reached Switzerland to ease the family out, and on insistence of Jaya, he put in a word for Big B, to then Prime Minister Chandrashekhar.
Many years later, when Abhishek Bachchan was arrested on charges for assaulting a journalist, it was Singh, who ran from pillar to post to get a bail for the Jr. Bachchan. But then all the “help” that Singh doled out to the family were cast aside when he fell from grace. Singh became an outcast, and the man, who likes to be called “sensitive”, could not understand how sentiments changed overnight.
Post break-up, Singh harped on his closeness to his “bade bhaiyya”, and lamented how he was used and then disposed off at his worst patch of life.
“I don’t want to be discussed for my so called friendship with a big person (Amitabh)… and be associated with someone else’s reflected glory,” Singh had then said.
While media stated that it was Jaya Bachchan’s refusal to leave the SJP after Singh was thrown out that led to the rift, the man himself attributes it to personal fight with Amitabh.
“The real reason was a few things that Amitji said to me at Anil Ambani’s house, in the latter’s presence. He was screaming, and I told him …not even my father raised his voice on me. I reminded him that I have never gained anything from him, except emotionally. I wrote him a letter the next morning. And for the first time, I did not address him as a brother…” Singh had told the Tehelka magazine.
This statement provides closure to a relationship and speculations as to what was the last straw that broke Singh’s back. In Delhi’s power corridors, brokers are used to advantage, but scoffed at for being political lowlifes. It is not surprising that the man, who was once surrounded by friends, now fights a lonely battle outside public glare.