Charan Singh was sure of his leadership, says biographer

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 12, 2013 08:10 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) Former prime minister Charan Singh, father of union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh who continues to influence the politics of western Uttar Pradesh, was a man confident of his leadership qualities, his biographer has said.

"Charan Singh was sure of his leadership qualities but could not match the cunning of (ex-prime minister) Indira Gandhi," Paul R. Brass said Monday at the launch of the second volume of his book "An Indian Political Life: Charan Singh and Indian Politics, 1957-1967" here.

However, Zoya Hasan, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, disagreed with him.

"He had differences with his colleagues and leadership on policy issues, especially agricultural policies...To me he comes across as a negative, conservative and very ambitious politician," she said.

Charan Singh was the prime minister briefly during 1979-80.

Prof. Mushirul Hasan from department of History at Jamia Millia Islamia, said the book reflects the politics and social life of Uttar Pradesh and said more such researches were needed.

Amita Baviskar, associate professor at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, said while Charan Singh championed farmers' politics and pushed agriculture sector, he was opposed to a factory in Uttar Pradesh which would produce fertilizers.

The book, said Brass, is based on personal files that Charan Singh provided him and his personal relationship with the late leader.

The second volume traces Charan Singh's increasing discontent in the Congress, magnified by the antagonism on the part of then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi towards him.

The book also looks into the decline of the Congress as the dominant party in Uttar Pradesh, which culminated with Singh defecting to form his own political party, said Brass.

The book also provides an account of the chief ministership of Sucheta Kriplani, a political outsider catapulted to the top by power struggles of fractious factions.

It explores the backdrop of regionalism in the state of Uttar Pradesh and the considerable yet little known role played by Charan Singh in issues of states reorganisation in northern India.

Brass teaches political science and international studies at University of Washington, Seattle, US. He has done extensive field research in India since 1961. The book has been published by Sage Publications and is priced at Rs.895.

T.N. Madan, professor emeritus sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, said Brass's research is very methodical and offers constructive scepticism.

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