The Info List - V. P. Singh

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Vishwanath Pratap Singh (25 June 1931 – 27 November 2008), was an Indian politician and government official, the 7th Prime Minister of India
from 1989 to 1990. Singh is known for trying to improve the lot of India's lower castes as a Prime Minister.[2]


1 Early career 2 Minister for Finance (1984-87) and Defence (1987) 3 Formation of Janata Dal

3.1 National Front coalition government

4 Prime Minister (1989-90)

4.1 Mandal Commission report 4.2 Tussle with Reliance group 4.3 Ram temple issue and the fall of the coalition 4.4 The Chandra Shekhar
Chandra Shekhar

5 United Front coalition and later years 6 Personal life 7 Death 8 Cultural legacy

8.1 Films 8.2 Books 8.3 Other books connected to V. P. Singh

9 References 10 External links

Early career[edit] Singh was born in a Rajput
zamindar family ruling the Manda estate on 25 June 1931.[3] He obtained his education from Colonel Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun
and studied at Allahabad
and Pune universities.[4] Singh became a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
in 1969 as a member of the Congress Party. He got elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971 and was appointed a Deputy Minister of Commerce by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
in 1974. He served as the Minister of Commerce in 1976–77.[4] He was appointed by Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1980, when Gandhi was re-elected after the Janata interlude.[4] As Chief Minister (1980–82), he cracked down hard on dacoity, a problem that was particularly severe in the rural districts of the south-west Uttar Pradesh. He received much favorable national publicity when he offered to resign following a self-professed failure to stamp out the problem, and again when he personally oversaw the surrender of some of the most feared dacoits of the area in 1983. He resumed his post as Minister of Commerce in 1983.[4] Singh was responsible for managing the coalition of the Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
to dethrone him in the 1989 elections. He is remembered for the important role that he played in 1989 that changed the course of Indian politics.[citation needed] Singh acted boldly by issuing an arrest warrant against L. K. Advani midway through the latter's Rath Yatra. Minister for Finance (1984-87) and Defence (1987)[edit] Called to New Delhi
New Delhi
following Rajiv Gandhi's mandate in the 1984 general election, Singh was appointed to the post of Finance Minister in the tenth Cabinet of India, where he oversaw the gradual relaxation of the License Raj
License Raj
(governmental regulation) as Gandhi had in mind. During his term as Finance Minister, he oversaw the reduction of gold smuggling by reducing gold taxes and giving the police a portion of the confiscated gold. He also gave extraordinary powers to the Enforcement Directorate
Enforcement Directorate
of the Finance Ministry, the wing of the ministry charged with tracking down tax evaders, then headed by Bhure Lal. Singh’s efforts to reduce governmental regulation of business and to prosecute tax fraud attracted widespread praise.[4] Following a number of high-profile raids on suspected evaders – including Dhirubhai Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan – Gandhi was forced to sack him as Finance Minister, possibly because many of the raids were conducted on industrialists who had supported the Congress financially in the past.[5] However, Singh's popularity was at such a pitch that only a sideways move seemed to have been possible, to the Defence Ministry (in January 1987).[6] Once ensconced in South Block, Singh began to investigate the notoriously murky world of defence procurement. After a while, word began to spread that Singh possessed information about the Bofors defence deal (the infamous arms-procurement fraud) that could damage Gandhi's reputation.[7] Before he could act on it, he was dismissed from the Cabinet and, in response, resigned his memberships in the Congress Party (Indira) and the Lok Sabha.[8] Formation of Janata Dal[edit] Together with associates Arun Nehru and Arif Mohammad Khan, Singh floated an opposition party named Jan Morcha.[9] He was re-elected to Lok Sabha in a tightly contested by-election from Allahabad, defeating Sunil Shastri.[10][11] On 11 October 1988, the birthday of the original Janata coalition's leader Jayaprakash Narayan, Singh founded the Janata Dal
Janata Dal
by the merger of Jan Morcha, Janata Party, Lok Dal and Congress (S), in order to bring together all the centrist parties opposed to the Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
government, and Singh was elected the President of the Janata Dal. An opposition coalition of the Janata Dal with regional parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telugu Desam Party, and Asom Gana Parishad, came into being, called the National Front, with V. P. Singh
V. P. Singh
as convener, NT Rama Rao as President, and P Upendra as a General Secretary.[12] National Front coalition government[edit] The National Front fought 1989 General Elections after coming to an electoral understanding with Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
and the Left parties (the two main oppositions) that served to unify the anti-Congress vote. The National Front, with its allies, earned a simple majority in the Lok Sabha and decided to form a government. The Bharatiya Janta Party
Bharatiya Janta Party
under the leadeship of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
and Lal Krishna Advani
Lal Krishna Advani
and the left parties such as the Communist Party of India
(Marxist) and the Communist Party of India
declined to serve in the government, preferring to support the government from outside. In a meeting in the Central Hall of Parliament on December 1, Singh proposed the name of Devi Lal as Prime Minister, in spite of the fact that he himself had been clearly projected by the anti-Congress forces as the 'clean' alternative to Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
and their Prime Ministerial candidate. Chaudhary Devi Lal, a Jat leader from Haryana
stood up and refused the nomination, and said that he would prefer to be an 'elder uncle' to the Government, and that Singh should be Prime Minister.[13][14] This last part came as a clear surprise to Chandra Shekhar, the former head of the erstwhile Janata Party, and Singh's greatest rival within the Janata Dal. Shekhar, who had clearly expected that an agreement had been forged with Lal as the consensus candidate, withdrew from the meeting and refused to serve in the Cabinet. Singh was sworn in as India’s Prime Minister on 2 December 1989.[4] Prime Minister (1989-90)[edit] Singh held office for slightly less than a year, from 2 December 1989 to 10 November 1990. After state legislative elections in March 1990, Singh’s governing coalition achieved control of both houses of India’s parliament.[4] During this time, Janata Dal
Janata Dal
came to power in five Indian states under Om Prakash Chautala
Om Prakash Chautala
( Banarsi Das Gupta, Hukam Singh), Chimanbhai Patel, Biju Patnaik, Laloo Prasad Yadav, and Mulayam Singh Yadav, and the National Front constituents in two more NT Rama Rao, and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. The Janata Dal
Janata Dal
also shared power in Kerala
under EK Nayanar and in Rajasthan
under Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
government from outside). Singh decided to end the Indian army's unsuccessful operation in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
which Rajiv Gandhi, his predecessor, had sent to combat the Tamil separatist movement.[15] V. P. Singh
V. P. Singh
faced his first crisis within few days of taking office, when terrorists kidnapped the daughter of his Home Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir). His government agreed to the demand for releasing militants in exchange; partly to end the storm of criticism that followed, he shortly thereafter appointed Jagmohan Malhotra, a former bureaucrat, as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, on the insistence of the Bharatiya Janata Party.[16] In Punjab, Singh replaced the hard-line Siddhartha Shankar Ray
Siddhartha Shankar Ray
as Governor with another former bureaucrat, Nirmal Kumar Mukarji, who moved forward on a timetable for fresh elections. Singh himself made a much-publicised visit to the Golden Temple to ask forgiveness for Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star
and the combination of events caused the long rebellion in Punjab to die down markedly in a few months.[17] He also thwarted the efforts of Pakistan under Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
to start a border war with India.[18][19][20] Mandal Commission report[edit] Singh himself wished to move forward nationally on social justice-related issues, which would in addition consolidate the caste coalition that supported the Janata Dal
Janata Dal
in northern India, and accordingly decided to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission which suggested that a fixed quota of all jobs in the public sector be reserved for members of the historically disadvantaged called Other Backward Classes.[21] This decision led to widespread protests among the upper caste youth in urban areas in northern India. OBC reservation (less creamy layer) was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008.[22][23] Tussle with Reliance group[edit] In 1990, the government-owned financial institutions like the Life Insurance Corporation of India
and the General Insurance Corporation stonewalled attempts by the Reliance group to acquire managerial control over Larsen & Toubro. Sensing defeat, the Ambanis resigned from the board of the company. Dhirubhai, who had become Larsen & Toubro's chairman in April 1989, had to quit his post to make way for D. N. Ghosh, former chairman of the State Bank of India. Ram temple issue and the fall of the coalition[edit] Main article: Ram Rath Yatra Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party
was moving its own agenda forward. In particular, the Ram Janmabhoomi
Ram Janmabhoomi
agitation, which served as a rallying cry for several radical Hindu organisations, took on new life. The party president, LK Advani, with Pramod Mahajan
Pramod Mahajan
as aide, toured the northern states on a rath – a bus converted to look like a mythical chariot – with the intention of drumming up support.[24] Before he could complete the tour by reaching the disputed site in Ayodhya, he was arrested on Singh's orders at Samastipur
on the charges of disturbing the peace and fomenting communal tension. The kār-seva (demolition of the mosque and construction of the temple) proposed by Advani on 30 October 1990 was prevented by stationing troops at the site.[25][26][27] This led to the Bharatiya Janata Party's suspension of support to the National Front government.[28] VP Singh faced the vote of no confidence in the Lok Sabha saying that he occupied the high moral ground, as he stood for secularism, had saved the Babri Masjid at the cost of power and had upheld the fundamental principles which were challenged during the crises. "What kind of India
do you want?" he asked of his opponents in Parliament, before losing the vote 142–346;[29][30][31] only a portion of the National Front remaining loyal to him (see below) and the left parties supported him in the vote. Singh resigned on 7 November 1990.[4] The Chandra Shekhar
Chandra Shekhar
government[edit] Chandra Shekhar
Chandra Shekhar
immediately seized the moment and left the Janata Dal with several of his own supporters (including Devi Lal, Janeshwar Mishra, HD Deve Gowda, Maneka Gandhi, Ashoke Kumar Sen, Subodh Kant Sahay, Om Prakash Chautala, Hukam Singh, Chimanbhai Patel, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Yashwant Sinha, VC Shukla, and Sanjay Singh) to form the Samajwadi Janata Party/ Janata Dal
Janata Dal
(Socialist).[32] Although Chandra Shekhar had a mere 64 MPs, Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
the leader of the Opposition, agreed to support him on the floor of the House; so he won a confidence motion and was sworn in as Prime Minister.[33] Eight Janata Dal MPs who voted for this motion were disqualified by the speaker Rabi Ray. He lasted only a few months before Gandhi withdrew support and fresh elections were called. He tried his best to get support till the last minute but failed. United Front coalition and later years[edit] VP Singh contested the new elections but his party was relegated to the opposition chiefly due to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
(May 1991) during the election campaign, and he later retired from active politics.[34][35] He spent the next few years touring the country speaking about matters related to issues of social justice and his artistic pursuits, chiefly painting. In 1992, Singh was the first to propose the name of the future President KR Narayanan as a (eventually successful) candidate for Vice President. Later the same year in December, he led his followers to Ayodhya
to oppose the karseva proposed by LK Advani, and was arrested before he could reach the site; the Masjid was demolished by the karsevaks a few days later. In 1996, the Congress party lost the general elections and Singh was the natural choice of the winning United Front (Singh was one of the forces behind the broad United Front coalition) for the post of Prime Minister. But he declined the offer made to him by communist veteran Jyoti Basu, Bihar strongman Lalu Prasad Yadav and almost all leaders of the Janata family.[4] Singh was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 and ceased public appearances. When his cancer went into remission in 2003, he once again became a visible figure, especially in the many groupings that had inherited the space once occupied by his Janata Dal. He relaunched the Jan Morcha in 2006 with actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar
Raj Babbar
as President.[36] After Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
drew a blank in the 2007 UP elections, Raj Babbar
Raj Babbar
joined the Congress, and Singh's elder son Ajeya Singh (Ajeya Pratap Singh) took over the reins of the party in anticipation of the 2009 General elections.[37] Ajeya Singh then contested as Jan Morcha candidate from Fatehpur, but lost to Rakesh Sachan of the Samajwadi Party. The Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
was renamed as the National Jan Morcha in June 2009.[38] A month later, the Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
merged with the Indian National Congress.[39] Singh was placed under arrest in Ghaziabad as he and his supporters were proceeding towards a hauling where prohibitory orders under Section 144 had been imposed to join the farmers agitating against the acquisition of land at Dadri
by the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Industries and demanding adequate compensation.[40] Later, Singh and CPI General Secretary AB Bardhan[41] were again arrested on the UP border when they were proceeding to Dadri. However, Singh and Babbar were later able to evade the police, reaching Dadri
on 18 August 2006, and ploughing the land in solidarity with the farmers.[42][43] Personal life[edit] Singh married Princess Sita Kumari, the daughter of the Raja of Deogarh-Madaria, Rajasthan, on 25 June 1955. It was an arranged marriage. He turned 24 on the day of the marriage, and she was 18. Kumari was a Sisodia Rajput
descended from Rana Pratap of Udaipur. The couple had two sons, Ajeya Singh (born 1957), a chartered accountant in New York, and Abhai Singh (born 1958), a doctor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.[44] Death[edit] V. P. Singh
V. P. Singh
died after a very long struggle with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer) and renal failure at Apollo Hospital
Apollo Hospital
in Delhi on 27 November 2008.[45][46] He was cremated at Allahabad
on the banks of the River Ganges
on 29 November 2008, his son Ajeya Singh lighting the funeral pyre.[47] Cultural legacy[edit] Films[edit]

Juliet Reynolds, an art critic and a close friend of Singh, made a short documentary on him, titled The Art of the Impossible (45 minutes long), and covers his political and artistic career.[48] Suma Josson made another film on Singh titled One More Day to Live.[49]


GS Bhargava: Peristroika in India: VP Singh's Prime Ministership, Gian Publishing House, New Delhi, 1990. Madan Gaur: VP Singh: Portrait of a Leader, Press and Publicity Syndicate of India, 1990. Seema Mustafa: The Lonely Prophet: VP Singh, a Political Biography, New Age international, 1995. Ram Bahadur Rai: Manjil se Jyada Safar (in Hindi), 2005.

Other books connected to V. P. Singh[edit]

"The State As Charade: V. P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar
Chandra Shekhar
and the Rest" by Arun Shourie, Publisher: South Asia Books IK Gujral: Matters of Discretion: An Autobiography, Hay House, India, 519 pages, Feb. 2011. ISBN 978-93-8048-080-0. Distributors: Penguin books, India. R Venkataraman: My Presidential Years, HarperCollins/Indus, 1995. ISBN 81-7223-202-0. P Upendra: Gatham Swagatham.


^ "VP Singh's wife to get Rs 1 lakh for defamation". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 January 2016.  ^ Singh, Indra Shekhar. "A grandson's tribute: The forgotten idealism of VP Singh". scroll.in. Retrieved 27 March 2018.  ^ Community Warriors: State, Peasants and Caste Armies in Bihar Ashwani Kumar Anthem Press, 2008 [1] ^ a b c d e f g h i "V.P. Singh". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 8 May. 2014 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/545849/VP-Singh>. ^ In May 1985, Singh suddenly removed the import of Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) from the Open General License category. As a raw material this was very important to manufacture polyester filament yarn. This made it very difficult for Reliance Industries under Dhirubhai Ambani to carry on operations. Reliance was able to secure, from various financial institutions, letters of credit that would allow it to import almost one full year’s requirement of PTA on the eve of the issuance of the government notification changing the category under which PTA could be imported. ^ In India, economic gains and new perils. New York Times. (2 March 1987). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Indian Government Lodges First Charges In Weapons Scandal. New York Times. (23 January 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Turmoil and a Scandal Take a Toll on Gandhi. New York Times. (24 August 1987). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Is the Raja Ready for War, or Losing His Steam?. New York Times. (8 October 1987). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Gandhi foes face test of strength. New York Times. (13 June 1988). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Gandhi Is Finding Out Fast How Much He Had to Lose. New York Times. (3 July 1988). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ New Opposition Front in India
Stages Lively Rally. New York Times. (18 September 1988). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Man in the News; V. P. Singh: Low-key Indian in high-anxiety job – New York Times report. New York Times (3 December 1989). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Indian opposition chooses a Premier. New York Times. (2 December 1989). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Obituary VP Singh Mark Tully
Mark Tully
The Guardian, 3 December 2008 [2] ^ Kashmir Officials Under Attack For Yielding to Muslim Abductors. New York Times. (15 December 1989). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India's Premier Offers Concessions to Sikhs. New York Times. (12 January 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India
Asserts That Pakistan Is Preparing for Border War. New York Times. (15 April 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India
and Pakistan Make the Most of Hard Feelings. New York Times. (22 April 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India, Stymied, Pulls Last Troops From Sri Lanka. New York Times. (25 March 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ "Mandal vs Mandir".  ^ Affirmative Action Has India's Students Astir. New York Times. (22 August 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Premier of India
in appeal on riots. New York Times. (27 September 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Hindu fundamentalist threatens India's government over temple. New York Times. (18 October 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India
Sends Troops to Stop Hindu March. New York Times. (26 October 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India
ready to bar Hindu move today – New York Times report. New York Times. (30 October 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Toll in India
clash at Mosque rises. New York Times. (1 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India's Prime Minister Loses His Parliamentary Majority in Temple Dispute. New York Times. (24 October 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ India's cabinet falls as Premier loses confidence vote, by 142–346, and quits – New York Times report. New York Times (8 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ A Test of Principles in India – New York Times Editorial. New York Times. (8 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ A Question Unanswered: Where Is India
Headed?. New York Times. (11 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Dissidents Split Indian Prime Minister's Party. New York Times. (6 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Rival of Singh Becomes India
Premier. New York Times. (10 November 1990). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ For India, Will It Be Change, Secularism or a Right Wing?. New York Times. (24 April 1991). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Ex-Darling of India
Press Finds Himself Ignored – New York Times report. New York Times (14 May 1991). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ V. P. Singh, Raj Babbar
Raj Babbar
launch new Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ An irreparable loss: Mayawati
Archived 2 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ National Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
plans farmers’ meet in Delhi Archived 24 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
merges with Congress. The Hindu. (25 July 2009). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ V. P. Singh
V. P. Singh
arrested on way to Reliance plant Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ V. P. Singh, Bardhan held on U. P. border Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ V. P. Singh, Raj Babbar
Raj Babbar
spring a surprise at Dadri
Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Jan Morcha
Jan Morcha
plans `Nyaya Yatra' Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Singh, Khushwant (11 April 2013). "Plane to Pakistan". Malicious Gossip. HarperCollins Publishers India. Retrieved 26 August 2014.  ^ V. P. Singh
V. P. Singh
passes away Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Pandya, Haresh. (29 November 2008) V. P. Singh, a leader of India who defended poor, dies at 77 – New York Times report. New York Times.. Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ V. P. Singh
V. P. Singh
cremated Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ The Raja, Up, Close and Personal. Indian Express. (21 January 2001). Retrieved 14 September 2011. ^ Suma Josson. Cinemaofmalayalam.net. Retrieved 14 September 2011.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to V. P. Singh.

Wikiquote has quotations related to: V. P. Singh

Prime minister's office Speech opposing the India-US nuclear deal Part I on YouTube
Part II on YouTube, Oct. 2007.

Political offices

Preceded by Banarsi Das Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh 1980–1982 Succeeded by Sripati Mishra

Preceded by Pranab Mukherjee Minister of Finance 1985–1987 Succeeded by Rajiv Gandhi

Preceded by Rajiv Gandhi Minister of Defence 1987 Succeeded by Krishna Chandra Pant

Prime Minister of India 1989–1990 Succeeded by Chandra Shekhar

Chairperson of the Planning Commission 1989–1990

Preceded by Krishna Chandra Pant Minister of Defence 1989–1990

v t e

Prime Minister of India

Jawaharlal Nehru Gulzarilal Nanda
Gulzarilal Nanda
(acting) Lal Bahadur Shastri Gulzarilal Nanda
Gulzarilal Nanda
(acting) Indira Gandhi Morarji Desai Charan Singh Rajiv Gandhi V. P. Singh Chandra Shekhar P. V. Narasimha Rao Atal Bihari Vajpayee H. D. Deve Gowda I. K. Gujral Manmohan Singh Narendra Modi

List List by longevity Official residence PM's Office

v t e

Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh

Govind Ballabh Pant Sampurnanand Chandra Bhanu Gupta Sucheta Kriplani Charan Singh Tribhuvan Narain Singh Kamalapati Tripathi Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna N. D. Tiwari Ram Naresh Yadav Banarsi Das V. P. Singh Sripati Mishra Vir Bahadur Singh Mulayam Singh Yadav Kalyan Singh Mayawati Jagdambika Pal Ram Prakash Gupta Rajnath Singh Akhilesh Yadav Yogi Adityanath

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 33456699 LCCN: n85338