V P Singh

  • With a heart that bled out every time he saw an injustice, V P Singh fought for social justice to his very end.

  • V P Singh is one of those few politicians who were grossly misunderstood by the people of India. Why did he earn so much hatred? He did not steal people’s money for his selfish reasons, neither did he sell the secrets of our country to another country. Giving preference to the oppressed sections in the fields of education and employment, was made a law during his rule. He is probably one of those who receive severe backlash for doing good.

  • ‘Isn’t that law good for the people? Why did people hate him for that?’ This is where the caste politics came into play. In 1989, when V P Singh made the Mandal Announcement, the oppressed sections should have been thrilled that a law is being made for their betterment. But that is not what happened. There were country-wide protests, saying V P Singh was trying to divide the nation on the basis of caste. All he did was give more opportunities to those who were denied opportunities in the yester years. The situation of a first-generation learner from an oppressed caste is much different from a student whose entire family is educated. It is only fair that the first-generation learner receives more opportunities. But people were so blinded by caste that they protested against the law which was made for their own good. If the parliament was a quarry, the Mandal Announcement was a paper cross and V P Singh was Jesus – this would be the perfect analogy to summarize the picture.

  • After implementing the Mandal Announcement, V P Singh’s career graph moved toward the negative values. His Prime Minister position was no more his. His peers became his foes. The party and country, both gave up on him. A politician who was highly regarded during 1969 – 1989 was let down by the people, just for bringing a good law to action. The consequences of bringing the law was such that he could not re-enter politics till the end of his time. But he didn’t seem demotivated by that. He would smilingly say – “I scored a goal with broken legs, didn’t I?”.

  • “The hero of the oppressed masses” would be the perfect title for him. In a cricket match that requires a team to score 300 runs, a batsman who scored 299 runs is regarded lesser than the player who scored the 300th run. Just like that, politicians like Lalu, Nitish, Mulayam and Sarath Yadhav who speak for the oppressed are kept on a higher scale than V P Singh who laid the foundation for all former said politicians. So, it can be said that he was let down by not just people alone; he was let down by history too!

  • It is not often that we come across leaders with great personal records. V P Singh was one such rare breed. In 1988, Rajiv Gandhi chose Sunil Shastri to run against V P Singh. Sunil Shastri was a part of the ministry when V P Singh served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Naturally he was hesitant to run against V P Singh. “I have worked under him. Moreover, he treats me like a younger brother, and my mother regards him as her fifth son. How can I run against such a person?”- Sunil Shastri confessed to Rajiv. But Rajiv refused to factor any of these and ordered him to run for the election. Though Sunil ran against V P Singh, he made sure that he made no derogatory remarks against V P Singh and conducted his campaign with utmost dignity. This peaceful campaign is a sign of Sunil’s gratitude toward V P Singh.

  • If V P Singh was to be described in one word, it would be ‘fearless’. In 1984, he served as the finance minister under Rajiv Gandhi. That was the first time an independent India had witnessed Income Tax raids in the houses of 2 big shots – Dhirubhai Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan. Though this was widely appreciated throughout the country, he did not receive much goodwill within his party. So, Rajiv Gandhi appointed V P Singh as the Defence Minister. He showed his fearless spirit in that ministry also and brought to light the Bofors deal scam. By this time Rajiv understood that wherever V P Singh goes, his pursuit of justice will not stop, and if it continues it might one day be a threat to Rajiv’s position too. In the following few months, the pressure from the party administration increased and V P Singh quit his position, just as Rajiv intended. This might have taken his position, but not his determination to render social justice. Soon after he quit, he started campaigning against Rajiv Gandhi, and popularised this campaign amongst the state governments. The central government toppled due to increasing pressure from state governments and thus V P Singh single-handedly changed the Central Government!

  • His minister’s council of 1989 was indeed an interesting mix; way different than Janata party’s minister council in 1977. This minister council of his consisted of BJP and Communist party. There was a time when BJP started dominating the council. Advani started Rath Yatra for the Ram Mandir issue. A secular V P Singh calculated the communal violence such a move could trigger and ordered Lalu, “Arrest Advani, even if that means losing my post.” Within a few days, Advani was arrested in Bihar. The repercussions were immediate – V P Singh was no more the Prime Minister. He left his office with a smile that conveyed the satisfaction of having done the best to maintain communal harmony.

  • His action of honouring Ambedkar with Bharath Ratna received a warm welcome and showered him with a lot of appreciation. Congress ruled the country from 1947. In the middle, Bharathiya Janata (then Janasangam) won. But it occurred to neither of these parties to honour the legacy of Ambedkar. It was V P Singh who came up with this idea of honouring Ambedkar. So, everyone who liked Ambedkar also liked V P Singh.

  • V P Singh may be considered as an extreme personality by politicians of the north. But for south India he is the hero who brought about radical changes. Someday, when the future decides to bless south India with another leader who will rule the entire country, he / she will be given the respect V P Singh received. That leader will pay their respects to V P Singh, the way V P Singh paid his respects to Ambedkar.