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Ajit Singh: From IIT grad to India’s beloved farm leader

May 07, 2021 01:57 AM IST

Ajit Singh, the son of former prime minister Charan Singh who was known as north India’s tallest farmer leader, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on April 20.

Former Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh, who was elected to Parliament seven times on the strength of his base among farmers in western Uttar Pradesh and held several federal portfolios, died of Covid-19 at a private hospital in Gurugram on Thursday. He was 82.

Former Union minister Ajit Singh.(ANI)
Former Union minister Ajit Singh.(ANI)

Singh, the son of former prime minister Charan Singh who was known as north India’s tallest farmer leader, was diagnosed with Covid on April 20. The disease came at a time the Jat leader was rebuilding his party in Uttar Pradesh and supporting the ongoing farmers’ agitation against three central agricultural laws.

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“Throughout his life journey, Chaudhary Sahib was loved and respected by many. He, in turn, cherished this bond with all of you and gave his best consideration and efforts for our welfare,” his family said in a statement.

The family implored his followers to stay at home and obey Covid protocols. “This would be the best way to honour Chaudhary Sahib as well as all those Covid warriors who are working night and day to protect us,” the statement said.

Also read | PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi among leaders who condole Ajit Singh's death

Born on February 12, 1939, Singh obtained a B.Tech (Computer Science) from IIT- Kharagpur and MS from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He worked as a computer scientist in the US for 15 years before he took a plunge in politics to fill the vacuum created by the death of his father in 1987.

“Deeply saddened by the passing away of former Union minister Chaudhary Ajit Singh ji. He was always devoted to the interests of the farmers. He efficiently discharged the responsibilities of several departments at the Centre. My condolences to his family in this hour of mourning,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Singh started his political career with the Lok Dal and later allied with the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party. He was a seven-time Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat and founded the RLD in 1996. He was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. He entered the Lok Sabha from Baghpat in 1989, and was re-elected in 1991, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004 and 2009.

He served as a Union minister on multiple occasions, the first being minister for industry in 1989 in the National Front government led by VP Singh and the last being civil aviation minister from 2011 to 2014 in the United Progressive Alliance government.

“He always raised his voice in the interest of the farmers. As a public representative and minister, he left a different impression on the politics of the country. My condolences to his family and well-wishers,” President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted.

RLD fared poorly in the 2014 and 2019 general elections and the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, but Singh, and his son Jayant Chaudhary, was in the process of rebuilding the party’s base in western UP. The party held several huge meetings in support of protesting farmers and also won crucial rural body seats in the just-concluded panchayat polls.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Brajendra K Parashar is a Special Correspondent presently looking after agriculture, energy, transport, panchayati raj, commercial tax, Rashtriya Lok Dal, state election commission, IAS/PCS Associations, Vidhan Parishad among other beats.

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