Arjun Singh (politician, born 1930)

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Arjun Singh (5 November 1930 – 4 March 2011) was an Indian politician from the Indian National Congress party, who served two terms as the 12th Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh in the 1980s. He later became Union Minister of Human Resource Development in the Manmohan Singh cabinet from 2004 to 2009.


  • The ban on communal organizations should be enforced the way it was done during the Emergency.
    • Arjun Singh, The Week, 21-2-1993, and in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 716

The Accidental Prime Minister (2014)[edit]

Baru, Sanjaya (2014). The accidental Prime Minister. Penguin India
  • In his own inclinations, Arjun Singh was no leftist. His political career, so far, had not reflected any such ideological leanings. He had worked his way up the political food chain in Madhya Pradesh politics, becoming the state’s chief minister. Leaving behind a string of allegations of corruption and the mismanagement of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy, he moved to Delhi and positioned himself as a rebel, opposing Narasimha Rao’s economic policies and ingratiating himself to representatives of the Muslim community by demanding Rao’s resignation over the handling of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. This was a political ploy—his secularism was as deep as that of the average Congressman. With respect to Dr Singh, too, Arjun Singh’s game was no different from that of the prime minister’s other political rivals, namely to appear more pro-Left than the PM in the hope of ousting Dr Singh with Left support.
  • While political analysts in the media focused more attention on Pranab Mukherjee’s desire to be PM, his links with the Left and his political moves, Arjun Singh was far more active than Pranab ever was in seeking to undermine the PM. Among the four senior ministers in the Union Cabinet (the other two were Natwar Singh and A.K. Antony), Arjun Singh took the longest time to adjust to Dr Singh’s elevation.
  • Arjun Singh used his perch at the HRD ministry to reinforce his image as a ‘left-wing secular’ politician, favouring and funding scholars and activities that helped him project this image. Whenever a journalist asked Dr Singh what he thought of Arjun Singh’s political games at the HRD ministry, the PM’s stock reply would be that India needed an educational system that promoted excellence and merit rather than any particular ideology. By favouring pro-Left and Muslim academics in various ways, he created a constituency of support among those who tended to be critical of the PM for following a foreign policy aimed, as they saw it, at ‘cosying up’ to the US—a country at odds with the Muslim world. Such was the sycophancy he encouraged that the Jamia Millia University even named a street on its campus after Arjun Singh when he was still in office.

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