Thus spoke Amar Singh - this month, four years ago

July 7th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Monobina Gupta
New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) Exactly four years ago, this month, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh vowed revenge against Congress president Sonia Gandhi when she kept his party out of her list of invitees to a dinner she hosted to cobble together a coalition, later known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Singh, who did manage to attend the dinner, was stung to the core by Gandhi’s indifference to him and spoke out in a television programme in July 2004.

“What was done to me, the public humiliation and then the bravado expressed by the Congress, it will cost them dearly because all the constituents of the Congress party and ours are of the same pattern,” Singh told Karan Thapar in BBC’s “Hard Talk India” programme.

He poured his agony out to Harkishen Singh Surjeet, then general secretary of Communist Party Of India-Marxist (CPI-M). Communist leader always nurtured a soft corner for the Samajwadi Party, particularly its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Surjeet took it upon himself to chaperone a sulking Singh to Gandhi’s dinner party.

In his BBC interview, Singh regretted having yielded to Surjeet. “I am very ashamed I went there. I should not have gone there,” said Singh.

Gandhi held Surjeet in high esteem but not the “gate crasher” the veteran Marxist had chosen to bring to her dinner party, indicated Singh.

“She (Gandhi) did not talk to me at all… Surjeet was sitting with me so as to pacify me and my hurt feelings,” Singh said in his interview.

He said the Congress had “discarded, rejected and shabbily treated” his party, which he said was spearheading the battle against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh.

Come July 2008, and Singh has swung to the other side of the pendulum.

The political chaos let loose by the India-US nuclear deal has mellowed him to a bewildering extent. Gone is his acerbic bitterness towards the Congress. Singh’s every utterance about the Congress is now cloyingly sweet.

Sonia Gandhi, once dubbed the “pizza queen” in Amar Singh’s lexicon, now seems to stand taller than even Surjeet. Setting aside his earlier habit of taking nasty potshots at Gandhi, the Samajwadi Party leader now refers to Gandhi in deferential terms.

“I cannot say Sonia Gandhi is my friend. She is the president of a national party. She is a leader of stature. So how can she be my friend? There is a lot of distance between us,” Singh told CNN-IBN this month.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad had once worked overtime to crush Mulayam Singh’s aspirations to wear the prime minister’s mantle. But last week, Lalu Prasad welcomed the Samajwadi Party on board after Mulayam Singh said he was ready to support the nuclear-deal-badgered Manmohan Singh government if the Left withdrew support.

“I am glad the Samajwadi Party is on board,” said Lalu Prasad.

Only four years ago, Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad were busy denouncing each other.

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