From a Top Engineer at IBM to a Seasoned Politician in India, the Story of Chaudhary Ajit Singh
Not many of us know but Chaudhary Ajit Singh was once holding a good position in the US headquarters of IBM, which was one of the world’s largest computer companies in the 1960s. And Ajit Singh carved out a niche as a successful computer engineer. According to reports in the 1980s, Ajit Singh was not very keen to return to India but as per the wishes of his father Charan Singh, he returned home and joined politics.
The former Union minister and farmer leader Ajit Singh did his BSc from Lucknow University. Later, he got selected to IIT Kharagpur. He was considered very sharp in studies. During that time, BTech graduates from the IITs in India used to go to America and following the wind Ajit Singh also went to the US in 1960.
His purpose of moving to the US was to pursue higher education in computer science. He did his post-graduation from the Illinois Institute in Chicago and then joined IBM in the 1960s. Ajit Singh lived in America for about 16–17 years.
In the late 80s, when former Prime Minister of India Chaudhary Charan Singh started looking for his political heir in the party, he wished that son Ajit would come back to India and help him in politics. Charan Singh’s followers also started urging Ajit to return. It is believed that Ajit was not very keen on returning but he had to bow down in front of his father’s wish.
He came to India in the late 80s and took a plunge into politics. In 1986, when his father Charan Singh became ill, he reached Parliament via Rajya Sabha. During this time, there was a split in the Lok Dal. He formed his own faction of Lok Dal, named Lok Dal (A) in 1987 and became its president. Later, his party was merged into the Janata Party and became its president in 1988. But it was during this time that Ajit started changing parties and joined the Janata Dal in 1989 and worked as general secretary of the party.
It can be said that the man of many political shades, Ajit Singh, has been a minister in almost every government at the Centre in the last few decades. In 2011, he joined the UPA and became the Union Minister of Aviation. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he faced a defeat at the hands of BJP’s Sanjeev Balyan in Muzaffarnagar. However, it was only by 6,526 votes. Earlier in 2014, he also had to face defeat in Baghpat. Then he was defeated by former Mumbai’s Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh.
When Charan Singh died in 1987, the Lok Dal had 84 MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. But Ajit continued to make political compromises for personal gains and gradually the party weakened. Today neither the RLD has any member in the UP Legislative Assembly, nor in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Throughout his political career, Ajit Singh continued to get the strength of his father’s legacy in Western Uttar Pradesh. However, Ajit Singh became a bit weak when people of this region were not happy with him. It was being said that it is difficult to say which alliance will Ajit Singh make or break as it was all as per his convenience and need.
He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 from Baghpat. He became a Cabinet minister in VP Singh’s government. In 1991, he was again elected to the Lok Sabha. This time he became a minister in PV Narasimha Rao’s government. In the election of 1996, he was in the fray as a Congress candidate but soon resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha. He had to face defeat for the first time in the 1998 election. However, he continued to be elected again in 1999, 2004 and 2009. From 2001 to 2003, he was also in the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
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