V. P. Singh

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Vishwanath Pratap Singh (June 25, 1931, November 27, 2008), Indian politician and government official, was the eighth Prime Minister of India (1989–90) and the 41st nominal Raja Bahadur (ruler) of the northern kingdom of Manda. He is known for trying to improve the lot of India's lower castes in his short term as Prime Minister.


  • Everybody knows I worked with Rajiv closely and we also fought each other over our beliefs. We fought the elections on the (Bofors) issue and the people gave their electoral verdict. It was an honest fight and I want to make it clear that at no point of time did I make the charge that Rajiv personally took money in the Bofors affair.
  • I have always been straight in my dealings, whether now or in yesteryear. There was no flip-flop/
    • In: Rediff.com "At no point did I charge that Rajiv personally took money in the Bofors affair".

The Lonely Punter: V.P.Singh[edit]

Farzana Versey in: The Lonely Punter: V.P.Singh, Countercurrents.org, 29 November, 2008

  • I do not know why everybody says that I am after power. If I were after power, I would have accepted it in 1996 when so many leaders came to my residence asking me to become prime minister.
    • His response to the comment that he was after power.
  • I believe whoever is in power, people should fight the establishment over issues. This is the weakness of our democracy. We vote, then for five years we remain dormant. The farmers’ movement will remain but we need a formal political party to fight elections.
  • Their argument was that no one comes here to sit with prayer beads, they all have ambitions and if they are not fulfilled, they go away.
    • On accommodating the needs of other politicians.
  • While politics is the art of the possible, history is the art of the impossible. I have never hesitated in attempting the impossible. What is historically relevant may not be politically prudent. One has to make one’s choices.
  • No, I have not been able to reconcile them. It is, perhaps, because of the conflict of the different approvals the different persona demand. The political personality survives in no small measure on approval of others. The creative personality needs an emotional seal. The ethical one ordains the approval of one’s conscience. I have not been able to integrate them.
    • On his coming to terms with different roles.

We are ruled by an upper caste Hindu raj[edit]

His interview with Javed M. Ansari and Zafar Agha in: powerful-secular-force--v.p.-singh/1/307978.html We are ruled by an upper caste Hindu raj, 29 December 2012

  • What we have to ask is not what we have got out of it, but what we have been able to get for the poor and the oppressed. For one, equity is now on the national agenda. No party can ignore it. They now enumerate how many candidates, chief ministers, Rajya Sabha members they have fielded from the deprived sections. The same is true of the choice of President or vice-president. So we have changed the political environment.
    • On his party losing elections on the issue of reservations for backward class.
  • The Dalits are a powerful secular force. Then, the backward forces can provide an effective bulwark along with the minorities against the forces of coramunalism. Because what has been established in the past half a century is the upper caste Hindu raj, depriving the backwards and the minorities.
  • Gandhi, Nehru and all did try to improve the situation. They tried to break a lot of economic and social stratifications. But inertia and the system prevail.
  • An iniquitous social structure has produced an iniquitous power structure. Individuals and parties are not at fault. Political, social and economic monopolies exclude a large section of the masses from decision-making. To that extent they are undemocratic. So far teams of the ruling elite played and the rest were called to applaud. Now the onlookers are saying we also want to kick and net a goal, and we have our own team.
    • On the changes occurring in the political structure of the country
  • I had aimed at more internal competition but this government is inviting [[w:Multinationals|multinationals across the world.
  • One thing the ruling elite should understand, if we keep driving the deprived sections of our society to the wall, we'll have more unrest. Hang V.P. Singh, but give the deprived justice. Otherwise this country will go beyond anyone's management.
  • As regards foreign investment, I said we have our own priorities and cannot open up so others can exploit us...Cutting red tape is one aspect of liberalisation, inviting all multinationals across the world is another thing. What I aimed at was a model of more internal competition, but resisting foreign capital.
  • The market theory is, there should be international mobility of capital. I said, why not international movement of labour? Marketing theory only envisages mobility of all factors of production. That means their medicines can come, but our doctors cannot go. Their engineering goods can come, our engineers cannot go. Secondly, they want the developing countries to open up but deny them access to technology. Certainly, our economies have been too protected. But that has to go gradually.

About V. P. Singh[edit]

  • In his 10 months in office he has aroused more controversy, and attracted more condemnation, than any of his predecessors in the same period. Students continue to immolate themselves in the belief that he symbolises the forces responsible for their ever-mounting frustration in the search for employment. At the same time, he has authorized the arrest of Lal Krishna Advani, whose rath yatra was projected as a holy campaign to arouse Hindu awareness of the need to salve the hurt caused to their religious heritage.
  • Every day you are being abused by the press and by the sections that had abused us for millennia. If you stand by us, you will get your share of abuse.
  • Are we not the youth of this country? The SCs form three-fourths of the country. Then why do they say the youth are against you? You gave us something through Mandal, and the whole country pounced on us. It is not the question of 27 per cent or 10 per cent, do we have a place of even 1 per cent in the hearts of the ruling elite?
    • Backward class boys addressing him, quoted in: "We are ruled by an upper caste Hindu raj"

VP Singh: Former prime minister of India who tried to improve the lot of his country's lower castes[edit]

Mark Tully in: VP Singh: Former prime minister of India who tried to improve the lot of his country's lower castes, The Guardian, 3 December 2008

  • An unusual Indian politician, renowned for his obsession with honesty and his willingness to sacrifice office. He was coalition prime minister of India for less than a year, from December 1989 to November 1990, yet during that time he took a number of crucial decisions.
  • His action which changed the course of Indian politics was implementation of a 10-year-old report advocating quotas in jobs and educational opportunities for those known as Other Backward Castes (OBCs)…. This action is seen as having been responsible for the rapid expansion of parties based on caste, particularly in northern India, although caste already played an important role in politics.
  • He was a lonely man in politics. He was neither liked nor trusted by his colleagues because he went against the grain.
  • He confounded his critics by never seeking office after he was ousted, but remained in public life by campaigning for causes he believed in.
  • He was shy, with a slightly nervous laugh, but to those who knew him he fully justified his public image of honesty, being open to discussion of any aspect of his career and willing to accept criticism.

VP Singh: The Renaissance Man (25 June 1931- 27 Nov 2008)[edit]

Sushmita Dutta in: VP Singh: The Renaissance Man (25 June 1931- 27 Nov 2008), Zeenews.com

  • As Chief Minister, he cracked down heavily on the dacoits, who were terrorizing the south west Uttar Pradesh. He was applauded for his offer of resignation when he failed to subdue the problem.
  • He floated his own party called the Jan Morcha which merged with Janata Party, Lok Dal and Congress (S), and with all small parties; he formed the first coalition party called National Front. It fought the general elections in 1989 with the support of BJP and managed to defeat the Congress with a small majority. The National Front came to power and he [V P Singh] became the Prime Minister.
  • He is remembered for his support for backward classes and the Mandal Commission. He tried to implement the Mandal recommendations in August 1990 which was to reserve 27% seats in government jobs to backward classes. He faced severe protests from across the country. A student called, Rajeev Goswami’s self-immolation made the situation worsen, and he was forced to resign from the post of Prime Minister.

The Lonely Punter: V.P.Singh[edit]

Farzana Versey in: The Lonely Punter: V.P.Singh, Countercurrents.org, 29 November, 2008

  • He was always imprisoned by his conscience, yet he did make compromises for public consumption.
  • As Finance Minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet, he made bold to arrest some of the business bigwigs, but it was the very segment that looked down on his ‘classless’ agenda that began rushing to buy his paintings. The zamindar who gave away all his land was fighting for the rights of the farmers. The man who had, in his first ever trip as PM, walked barefoot to Amritsar, Punjab, to “add a healing touch” was to be held responsible for so many immolations due to his steadfast execution of the Mandal Report for the backward classes.
  • What struck me most was his naiveté. He was like someone in a coal mine who suddenly finds a diamond and starts exulting over it. He begins to seriously believe that it is possible to repeat the feat, so he will dig into the black soot again.
  • He has been called the most complete politician and, “the Houdini of Indian politics, because he creates the illusion of escaping from the hurly burly of ‘dirty politics’ without actually leaving the stage.

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