Date:28/11/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2008/11/28/stories/2008112854871400.htm
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National

An irreparable loss: Mayawati

Atiq Khan

Three-day mourning in Uttar Pradesh

LUCKNOW: A three-day State mourning has been declared in Uttar Pradesh as a mark of respect to the former Prime Minister, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who died in a Delhi hospital on Thursday.

Mr. Singh served as the Congress Chief Minister of U.P. from 1980 to 1982.

Condoling his death, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati said it was an irreparable loss to the nation and society.

Mr. Singh, who later came to be known as the ‘Mandal messiah,’ became the Chief Minister after Indira Gandhi’s return to power at the head of the Congress government at the Centre in January 1980.

Mr. Singh’s tenure as the Chief Minister was marked by the dacoit menace in the Chambal and Yamuna ravines of the State, notably the rise of Phoolan Devi. The Behmai massacre of 1982, masterminded by Phoolan Devi, also happened during his term. He drew flak for the police’s failure to rein in dacoit gangs, which by then came to be firmly divided along caste lines.

It was in one such dacoit attack that his elder brother, a serving judge, was killed by brigands in Allahabad district, after which he resigned as the Chief Minister. After a stint as a Union Minister, Mr. Singh returned to State politics in 1987 when he unfurled the banner of revolt against the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, on the Bofors issue. He formed the Jan Morcha the same year, which also saw some former Central and State Ministers such as Vidya Charan Shukla and Sanjay Singh jump on his bandwagon.

In 1988, Mr. Singh defeated Sunil Shastri of the Congress in the Lok Sabha byelections in Allahabad. The byelection had been caused by the resignation of actor Amitabh Bachchan. He went on to become the Prime Minister in the 1989 Lok Sabha polls.

Non-starter

He revived the Jan Morcha prior to the 2007 U.P. Assembly elections with Raj Babbar taking over as its president. The Morcha was a non-starter in the elections following which both Mr. Singh and Mr. Babbar faded away from State politics. Recently, his son, Ajeya Singh, took over the reins of the outfit.

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