Among the turncoats in the fray for the November 3 Madhya Pradesh assembly bypolls, perhaps the most prominent is Akhand Pratap Singh ‘Yadav’. With his political career spanning over four decades, the former Congress leader has been fielded this time by the Bahujan Samaj Party, hours after he switched over.
Singh, a political veteran of over 43 years, has been in the Janata Party, Congress, BJP and BSP.
At 75, Singh, who served as a minister in the Digvijaya Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan governments, has entered the poll fray from Bada Malhera, part of his native region, Tikamgarh.
Despite his persistent switching of political affiliations over the years, Singh is also known as a leader who fought his own government when it came to corruption. Albeit, he also was embroiled in corruption charges levelled against him by his political opponents time and again.
Singh, an engineer by profession, started his political career after being elected a panch in Jevar gram panchayat (his native village) and rose through the ranks with elections to many local bodies in Tikamgarh. In 1977, he was elected a Janata Party MLA from Jatara. Singh had again entered the poll fray in 1990 from Jatara but was defeated by the BJP’s Kunwar Surendra Pratap Singh. However, the senior leader had challenged the verdict and fought a lengthy battle till the Supreme Court.
He returned as an MLA of the Congress party in 1993 from Jatara and was included in the Digvijaya Singh government with the animal husbandry portfolio. Soon after, he found gross corruption in his own department and wrote to the chief minister for action and went public through a press briefing when the CM remained unmoved.
He was soon axed from the cabinet but claims that it was done due to his association with BSP supremo Kanshi Ram. He contested the Khajuraho Lok Sabha poll as a BSP candidate but lost in 1999. He had also joined the Janata Dal briefly prior to 2003.
Later, Uma Bharti fielded him from Tikamgarh in 2003 on a BJP ticket. He won and was appointed the food and civil supplies minister. He went after the PDS shop owners who were mostly affiliated to the ruling party and his own department over corruption. He had taken on CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan over proposed allocation of 13.66 acre land to Narmada Samagra, an organisation floated by late Rajya Sabha member Anil Madhav Dave.
An upset BJP had fielded him against Uma Bharti who had floated Bharatiya Janshakti Party and both lost from Tikamgarh in 2008. A couple of years later, Singh joined the Congress.
However, as the Congress denied him a ticket from Bada Malhera in the 2018 assembly polls and now in the bypolls, he switched over to the BSP. With Yadavs and Lodhis being dominant voters in Bada Malhera, the BSP is hoping for a surprise as both the BJP and Congress have fielded Lodhis.
News18.com had a chat with the veteran politician. Excerpts:
At 75 years of age, how do you rate your chances of victory?
Age does not matter if you are active. It’s my old area of operation and I will defeat the BJP and Congress in the bypoll. The BSP will win 28 seats and will form the government as both the BJP and Congress have disappointed the public.
How do you justify changing political affiliations with such frequency?
I never switched loyalties. I always stood up to the ruling party over corruption. I was a minister who even demanded an FIR against my own department in the Digvijaya Singh government. I have sat in opposition with leaders like Digvijaya Singh, Kailash Joshi and others.
You fought corruption and also had corruption charges against you.
People attack you with corruption charges but I also had fought these charges at various agencies including Lokayukta.
Why have you left the Congress and joined the BSP now?
I was a claimant of a ticket from Bada Malhera in 2018 and now in the bypolls but I was denied it. The Congress party is not the old organisation anymore; some chosen few are running it with proprietorship. I have several unfinished works to complete in Bada Malhera.
How do you see your political future?
I am confident I will win in Bada Malhera and I am also a lucky mascot for political parties as whatever party I contested with came to power (Janata Party in 1977, Congress in 1993 and BJP in 2003).
Did you demand a ticket from the Samajwadi Party?
No. In the year 2018 and in the bypoll, I was a strong claimant for a ticket from the Congress party.