|Jayant Sinha and Saurabh Narayan Singh
Between the two of them, they have studied at stellar institutions from The Doon School to IIT-Delhi and Harvard Business School. One is a royal scion, another a former Union minister’s son. Both were top-notch professionals. And now, the suave candidates are locking horns in the heat and dust of Lok Sabha polls, vying for the crown of people’s prince from Hazaribagh.
Meet Jayant Sinha (50), BJP contestant, and Saurabh Narayan Singh (39), his rival Congress nominee.
Jayant, son of former external affairs minister and Hazaribagh sitting MP Yashwant Sinha, recently quit as MD of Omidyar Network’s India operations. Set up in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, Omidyar is a philanthropic investment firm.
Singh is from the Padma princely estate of Ramgarh. Grandson of Kamakhya Narayan Singh, popularly known as Padma Raja, junior Singh shot into limelight when he defeated BJP veteran Dev Dayal Kushwaha in 2004 to become MLA at 30. Sadar MLA now, he’s had corporate stints, including Citibank.
Talk to each about the other, and watch the fur fly.
“I tasted great success in my professional life. Whatever I am is due to my hard work. I am not from any royal family,” Jayant said.
Singh’s rejoinder: “I don’t think Jayant is a serious contender. The BJP made things easy for me by fielding Jayant.”
In 2009, Sinha Senior won the Hazaribagh seat by a margin of 50,000 votes. Singh lost.
Now, he says: “Why didn’t he (Jayant) help his father (Yashwant Sinha) these five years? His father vacated the battlefield for him.”
Ask Jayant, and he gives his version. “I keep tabs on every project sanctioned from my father’s MPLAD funds. I’m touring areas. Both the BJP and my father have high expectations from me. I won’t let them down,” he said, adding he felt connected to Jharkhand as he was born in Giridih when his father was a subdivsional officer.
MLA Singh, though younger, has more political experience than Jayant.
His paternal grandmother, the formidable Lalita Rajlaxmi, was Bihar’s finance minister, while his maternal grandfather Dinesh Singh was a Union minister under prime ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narsimha Rao.
But Jayant also rebuts the fact that he is a newbie. “Why are people saying I am new to politics? I have been active since my father won the seat the first time in 1998,” he said.
Both have impressive academic CVs.
An old boy of St Columba’s College, Hazaribagh, Jayant went on to study at IIT-Delhi, Harvard Business School and University of Pennsylvania.
Singh studied in Modern School, New Delhi, Doon School, Dehradun, Dayal Singh College, New Delhi, and finally did his MBA at University of Western Australia, Perth.
Despite their undeniable privileges, both claim to know the pulse of the people.
“I want to be the voice of people in Parliament and speed up development projects. I am the son of a government servant and know ground realities,” Jayant said.
“What matters most are the people and their concerns. This time, Congress will win,” Singh said.