RLD chief Ajit Singh was inducted as a Union Cabinet Minister on December 18 as part of a crucial pre-poll tie-up between Congress and RLD for Uttar Pradesh. He is the new civil aviation minister. This is the third time, he has become a Cabinet Minister.
But, on all three occasions, the incumbent government in which he became a minister has lost power!
Ajit Singh was a member of the Congress government when Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister. He held the Food portfolio then. The Congress lost power in the 1996 polls.
He was industry minister in the V P Singh government (1989-90) and Singh was overthrown by Chandra Shekhar with the hlep of the Congress.
Singh was agriculture minister in the BJP-led NDA regime from 2001-03. The NDA lost the 2004 polls!
So, the big question within the Congress is whether the swearing-in of the 72-year-old Jat leader from western Uttar Pradesh will do good for the beleagured Manmohan Singh government.
Singh is known to play his cards carefully and doesn’t mind dumping or aligning with any party if it suits his political objective.
Carrying the legacy of his father, former prime minister Charan Singh, he first entered Parliament as a Rajya Sabha member for Uttar Pradesh in 1986.
Singh created his own faction of the Lok Dal called Lok Dal (Ajit) in 1987 and a year later merged it with the Janata Party, as part of a deal by which he became president of the merged party.
When the Janata Dal was formed by a merger of the Janata Party, H. N. Bahuguna’s faction of the Lok Dal and the Jan Morcha, Singh was elected its secretary general. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 and re-elected in 1991.
He became a Union minister for industry in 1989-90 when he was inducted into the National Front government of V P Singh.
In 995-96, Ajit Singh helped then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao to muster majority in 1995-96 by bringing a number of Janata Dal MPs.
After winning the 1996 Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket, he left the party within a year to form the Bharatiya Kisan Kamgar Party. He resigned from Lok Sabha membership and contested the consequent bye-election as a BKKP candidate in Baghpat, defeating his nearest Indian National Congress candidate Mukhiya Gurjar.
But Ajit Singh lost the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, the only election he has lost in his political career, to BJP candidate Som Pal. He, however, won in 1999 after floating his new party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
In July 2001, he tied up with the BJP for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and joined the BJP-led government as agriculture minister. He subsequently joined an alliance between the BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party.
In May 2003, only a few months before the BJP and BSP parted ways, Ajit withdrew from the government and the Union Cabinet. That led to the collapse of the BSP government in UP.
When Mulayam Singh Yadav came to power, Ajit Singh supported him up until early 2007, after which he left the government due to differences on farmers policies.
Ajit Singh returned to the NDA for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. He was re-elected to the 15th Lok Sabha from Baghpat but the BJP lost power.
Ajit Singh’s RLD is the first political outfit to join the UPA since it was voted for the second time in May 2009. Ajit Singh will become the 33rd minister in the Union Cabinet and 77th in the council of ministers. RLD will be the 15th constituent of the UPA, the others being TMC, DMK, NCP, NC, Muslim League, MIM, Kerala Congress (M), VCK, Bodoland Peoples’ Front, Nagaland Peoples’ Front, SDF, and AIUDF. Ajit Singh had called on Congress President Sonia Gandhi last after sealing a pact for the UP polls.