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Amar Singh at SP event

It was the 30-minute closed door meeting at Amausi airport that gave it all away. Neither Mulayam’s stoic silence on the special invite to Amar Singh, nor his decision to sit at a distance from his former friend could couch the ‘Amar prem’ when the duo met at the Lucknow airport and took off together, 30 minutes later, to New Delhi. Whether this was a chance encounter or a pre-planned meet is not known, but the positive vibes that the two leaders shared gave credence to reports of Singh’s comeback to his old party.

In this light, it was not surprising Amar Singh was unfazed by the slogans of protest by Samajwadi Party workers. Making a grand comeback of sorts on Tuesday, sharing the dais with party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and top socialist leaders from across the state, Amar Singh’s brushing shoulders with the SP bigwigs set tongues wagging over the possibility of his return to the party fold.

Even as rumour mills were rife over senior upper-caste leaders of the SP going into a huddle over Singh’s imminent return, Amar maintained his participation in Tuesday’s programme was “purely personal, driven by an emotional connect and following instructions from his senior, Mulayam Singh Yadav.” He said “there is no point thinking about the past or bothering about the future. A man must live in the present.” The wily Thakur, who resigned from all party posts in January 2010, ended his 5-minute speech with a couplet, harping especially on his good fortune to have been loved, even by his enemies.

Sources in the party said the sudden bonhomie between Amar and Mulayam after a four-and-a half-year gap may stem from Amar’s need for a Rajya Sabha nomination in November, 2014, when his RS terms comes to an end. Though Mulayam’s SP stands significantly reduced in the Lok Sabha, on the back of a robust performance by the party in the UP assembly, the SP will still be able to send up to seven persons to the Rajya Sabha for the bypolls due in December.

If a quid pro quo is what Amar Singh seeks, the SP can also hope to build on Singh’s clout, if only a waning one, within the Thakur community. Singh also promises to infuse life into the state’s dipping image, nationally. In Mulayam’s previous term as CM, Amar Singh served as chairman of the UP Development Council, bringing in Indian top industrialists to invest in the sugar and hospitality industry in the state.

Besides, Amar Singh is likely, also, to be used as a tool to cut senior SP leader Azam Khan to size. In clear signs that Amar’s return to limelight has not gone down well with some of the party’s senior members, both Azam Khan and Ram Gopal Yadav stayed away from Tuesday’s programme citing “other pressing concerns.” Khan, during the last week, has also been cut up with the SP leadership for not acting on his recommendation for a CBI inquiry into anomalies in the management and sale of Waqf board properties. He was also pushing for elections for the fresh appointment of the Shia Waqf Board, another decision which was scrapped on Sunday, after Mulayam held a late night meeting with Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad.

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