Once upon a time, there was a political hero known as Amar Singh. Whenever there was a shortage of numbers, it was his job to ensure that there was a houseful. And the funny part was that he delivered, every time. He was also a media delight. However, he died a very lonely death.
Amar Singh was the strongest in the era of coalition politics, particularly during the UPA years when he famously saved the Manmohan Singh government during the nuclear deal. It was he who persuaded the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to support the Congress on this. That was also the point where his graph was at his highest and he counted Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Ambani, Sahara Shree amongst his closest friends.
But it was not always like this. He began life as the son of a small-time trader. As once he told in an interview, “I was born and grew up in a three-room flat. There were five of us and only one bathroom. I still remember the torture in the mornings when all of us had to queue outside the toilet. Since then I have an obsession with big bathrooms.
He journeyed from Kolkata to Delhi and his first political flirtation was with the Congress. But soon Amar Singh shifted to the Samajwadi Party, where he was a close friend of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. The socialist met the socialite and learned that the party was both a noun and a verb. The rest of Mulayam’s party watched in dismay—this included son Akhilesh—as the SP minister became a regular fixture at Amar Singh’s over the top bashes. From elephants to BMWs, all were made their way up the driveway, as did Ambani junior, Amitabh Bachchan and other Bollywood notables, the entire Parliament of Delhi including the then Congress president, Sitaram Kesri.
But all good times come to an end and it was the “cash for votes” scandal that did him in. This was in 2008, when the BJP accused the Congress of “buying” 22 MPs to survive a no-confidence vote in Parliament. This was essentially a sting operation carried out by the BJP to trap the Congress and Amar Singh got caught on tape. He eventually went to prison for this and this was when most of his friends dropped him.
By now Mulayam Singh Yadav had been persuaded by a rival camp in the SP, led by his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav and son Akhilesh to dump Amar Singh. The Bachchans too had fallen out with him as had Anil Ambani and Sahara Shree. The much waited for dawn never came, though he kept reinventing himself. Finally, from his deathbed in Singapore, Amar Singh did reach out to Amitabh in an emotional video. But the much sought for reunion did not happen—at least not as publicly as the outreach. In the end, the 64-year-old Amar Singh was all alone. He shot to fame as the man who had many powerful friends. He died as the man who had lost many powerful friends.