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Out of favour, Amar misses Calcutta years Nostalgia after party at 'home'

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RADHIKA RAMASESHAN   |     |   Published 07.09.11, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Sept. 6: Amar Singh’s last blog, posted on May 3 on his website, was called “Guzara hua zamana, aata nahin dubara” (the years gone by never ever return).

He did not pine for the heightened glory he revelled in as Mulayam Singh Yadav’s principal aide, nor did he hanker after the spotlight that often froze him, smug and smirking, on the front pages and on page 3 of papers with the Bachchans and the Ambanis.

Amar was nostalgic about Calcutta, the city he grew up in.

Born into a family of locksmiths who migrated from eastern Uttar Pradesh and made their home in a narrow lane of Burrabazar, he was as easy with Bengal politics as with that of Uttar Pradesh in later years.

He was initiated into the Youth Congress by Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, whom he counted as his first political mentor; went on to become a confidant of the late Madhavrao Scindia and winged out of Gwalior to Lucknow to try and create a larger space for himself in a small regional party, the Samajwadi.

In his blog, Amar fondly described Calcutta as my “home city”. “I have an ancestral home here and I still file my tax returns from here,” he said.

On May 2, he was there to attend the wedding anniversary of Birla scion Basant Kumar Birla and Sarla Birla. The guest of honour, he noted, was his “good friend” and film star Dev Anand.

Down on their luck, most politicians wouldn’t want to figure on social networks, leave alone socialise.

Not Amar.

The Calcutta do had all that it took to force a smile out of him: a pedigreed business “khandaan”, a Bollywood star and a dollop of nostalgia.

At the pinnacle of his power, Amar counted the late K.K. Birla, Amitabh Bachchan, Chandra Shekhar, Deve Gowda, Subroto Roy, the Ambanis and former stockbroker Ketan Parikh among his friends.

Mulayam sought him out and cultivated him to foster his national ambitions. Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda saw him as a useful conduit to navigate the powerful lanes and bylanes of the capital. For another former Prime Minister, Chandra Shekhar, he was a fellow Thakur from eastern Uttar Pradesh. To the industrialists, he was an ace mover and shaker.

Indeed, those around Amar still rue the fact that while he was “used and abused” by the numbers that swelled with the unbridled access he had to Congress leaders in 2008 and the early part of 2009, most of them discarded him once Mulayam did.

Like the Bachchans. A couple of years ago, when they coincidentally happened to be holidaying in London at the same time and in the same place, Amar tried hard to “breach” a birthday do at the Bachchans’ apartment. The couple scooted when they spotted him.

Ironically, after his arrest, it was a former colleague from the Samajwadi who was one of the few to commiserate with Amar.

Mohan Singh, who Amar often pilloried in his blogs, said: “He was our leader for 13 years. In his hour of crisis, how can we not but share his pain? I can only beat my head and wonder why a former colleague has to serve a jail stint for no fault of his.”


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