Lucknow: Is Amar Singh returning to Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party? If the rumour mills are anything to go by, it is true.
Four years after their acrimonious parting of ways, Amar Singh and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav shared a dais at an event here Tuesday. Insiders say the "deal is 99 percent done" and Amar Singh will be king again at a time when Mulayam Singh Yadav is seemingly short of political breath after the Lok Sabha election debacle.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is said to be looking for a "Man Friday" to ward off the mess the Uttar Pradesh government led by his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav finds itself in after over two years in power. Other sources aver that even if Amar Singh returns to the Samajwadi Party and is re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha in November, his known rivals in the party will be taken into confidence -- unlike in the past.
One source said the Lucknow event where Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav came together was to gauge the political reactions.
A senior leader privy to the developments said that a meeting took place between Amar Singh and Akhilesh Yadav at a London hotel when the latter went on a family holiday. Things moved thereafter and the "Netaji" - as Amar Singh is known - gave his nod for a re-union.
The sources said Mulayam Singh Yadav never snapped the communication channels with Amar Singh even after expelling him from the party -- under pressure from cousin Ram Gopal Yadav.
"They were in telephonic contact though not as frequently as earlier. But the relationship was never over," an aide to Amar Singh said requesting he be not identified by name.
Apparently, Akhilesh Yadav too maintained a warm relationship with 'chacha' (uncle) Amar Singh even after his party stormed to power in 2012. PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, younger brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, is said to be fond of Amar Singh's known networking skills.
But Ram Gopal Yadav, otherwise an Amar Singh baiter, has not spoken out against the Thakur leader, who was for years the de facto face of Mulayam Singh Yadav in Delhi.
A section of the Samajwadi Party leaders, however, has not given up its hostility to Amar Singh.
While the Samajwadi Party's strength dropped in the Lok Sabha election from 22 to just four (Mulayam Singh Yadav won two seats), Amar Singh lost his security deposit in Fatehpur Sikri as an RLD candidate.
Realizing that his options had run out, Amar Singh seems to have decided to bury the hatchet with Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The Samajwadi Party perhaps wants to win back the industrialist support base through Amar Singh, who is also known to have close ties in the media and entertainment world.
But Amar Singh's critics like Mohd Azam Khan, the state's urban development minister, continues to be a stumbling block.
Khan has called Amar Singh a "pimp" and a "joker" in the past and is likely to be a major dissenter in case the party plans to take back Amar Singh. Not surprisingly, Khan gave the event where Amar Singh was present a miss.