Arjun Singh

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Not to be confused with the former Lt. Governor of Delhi, Arjun Singh.
Arjun Singh
Arjun Singh.jpg
Arjun Singh in 1984
Minister of Human Resource Development
In office
2004–2009
Preceded by Murli Manohar Joshi
Succeeded by Kapil Sibal
Personal details
Born (1930-11-05)5 November 1930
Churhat, Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh, India
Died 4 March 2011(2011-03-04) (aged 80)
Spouse(s) Saroj Kumari
Occupation Politician

Arjun Singh (5 November 1930 – 4 March 2011) was an Indian politician from the Indian National Congress party. He was the Union Minister of Human Resource Development in the Manmohan Singh cabinet from 2004 to 2009. He died on 4 March 2011 due to a heart attack.[1]

Family[edit]

Arjun Singh was born in a Rajput family[2] in Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh. Singh's father, Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh, also a Congress politician, was Minister of Industry under Jawaharlal Nehru .

Singh was married to Saroj Devi of Pratapgarh near Amarpatan in Satna, M.P. and the couple have two sons and a daughter. Abhimanyu Singh, their first son, is a businessman in Bangalore. Their second son, Ajay Singh 'Rahul', is an Indian National Congress politician and presently leader of opposition of Madhya Pradesh state assembly, MP MLA and has been a minister in M.P. Government. Their daughter Veena Singh fought unsuccessfully as an independent candidate from Sidhi Lok Sabha constituency in 15th Lok Sabha elections. Veena Singh's son, Kunwar Aishwarya Singh married the aristocrat, Devyani Rana from the Rana dynasty of Nepal. Bollywood actor Arunoday Singh is another grandson.

Death[edit]

Singh died on 4 March 2011, at the age of 80. He had been admitted in Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) a few days previously with chest neurological problems and died of a heart attack.[3] He was cremated at his home town of Churhat, Madhya Pradesh.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Arjun Singh was a minister in the P.V. Narasimha Rao cabinet but he resigned after the Babri Masjid demolition. At the time, he formed the All India Indira Congress (Tiwari) along with Narayan Dutt Tiwari, former Union minister and ex-CM of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal) as President, but he lost in the 1996 Loksabha elections from Satna in Madhya Pradesh and the Congress too lost power at the center. Later he returned to Congress and lost again from Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh. He served as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh three times, Union minister and Governor of Punjab once for a short period. As Governor of Punjab, he worked for the Rajiv-Longwal Accord for peace in Punjab. He was awarded the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award in 2000.

Controversies[edit]

Bhopal Incident[edit]

Arjun Singh was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh when the deadly gas leak from the Union Carbide factory occurred. It is widely alleged that on the fateful night between 2 and 3 December 1984, when the gas leak occurred, Arjun Singh fled to his Kerwa Dam palace (outside Bhopal) to save himself from deadly effects of leaked gas and was not available to manage the crisis or lead the administration. Subsequently the Arjun Singh government's mishandling was criticized by the court in the verdict on Bhopal incident pronounced by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal on 7 June 2010. The media raised serious questions about his role in the release of Warren Anderson.[4] In particular, the pilot of the aircraft in which Warren Anderson flew out of India after the gas leak, has recorded that the final sanction to permit the flight came from Arjun Singh's office.[5]

Churhat lottery case and Kerwa Dam palace[edit]

While Arjun Singh was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, he was involved in the scandal which was called by some the Churhat Lottery case. The Churhat Children Welfare Society was floated in 1982 by relatives of Singh, and permitted to raise funds via lottery, and also given tax relief as a charity.[6] However, there were widespread allegations[7] that a substantial sums were siphoned off and used to construct the lavish Kerwa Dam palace near Bhopal. The donations to the society included a Rs 150,000 donation from Union Carbide,[5] whose chief Warren Anderson was permitted to leave the country after the gas leak, allegedly by Arjun Singh's office.

At a public litigation hearing the high court observed that "Arjun Singh owed an explanation to the nation about the costs and sources of construction of the palatial mansion in Bhopal".[8] While Singh had claimed the value of the palace was Rs 1.8 million, the IT Department estimated the cost at above Rs one crore.[9] However, a one-judge commission investigating the scandal gave a clean chit to Arjun Singh.[10] The case was re-opened however, after the Jain Hawala case,[8] and Singh was asked to submit fresh re-estimates of the palace cost. In court, the case was argued by Kapil Sibal and the order for re-examination was squashed on the grounds that it had been issued in a haste and "had not applied his mind".[8]

Other controversies[edit]

After the Mumbai train bombings of 2006, he reportedly quoted at a Cabinet meeting the statements of a former judge of the Maharashtra High Court that an earlier attempt on the headquarters of the Hindu revivalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur had been a plot set into motion by the Sangh itself. This followed his denouncement of the Ekal Vidyalayas, one-teacher schools run for the benefit of the tribals of India by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.,[11] as communal.[12]

A case under the Anti-Dowry Act has been registered against Arjun Singh.[13] Mayawati government has decided to seek CBI inquiry into dowry harassment case.[14]

Arjun Singh was accused of irregularities and corruption in the grant of Deemed University status to private for-profit educational institutions which did not meet requisite educational standards, during his tenure as Minister for Human Resources Development. The Government of India initiated proceedings to repeal the "Deemed University" status of 44 such institutions in Jan 2010.[15]

Positions held[edit]

  • 1957-85 Member, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly Member of the Legislative Assembly
  • September 1963 - December 1967 Minister of State for Agriculture, General Administration Department (GAD) and Information & Public Relations, Government of Madhya Pradesh
  • 1967 Minister of Planning and Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh
  • 1972-77 Minister of Education, Government of Madhya Pradesh
  • 1977-80 Leader of Opposition, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly
  • 1980-85 Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh
  • March — November 1985 Governor of Punjab
  • February 1988 - January 1989 Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh
  • June 1991 - December 1994 Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India
  • June 1991 - May 1996 Member from Satna, Tenth Lok Sabha
  • June 1996 - Lost from Satna, Eleventh Lok Sabha
  • April 1998 - Lost from Hoshangabad, Twelfth Lok Sabha
  • April 2000 Elected to Rajya Sabha
  • 15 May 2000 - February 2004 Member, Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Home Affairs
  • 31 August 2001- July 2004 Member, Committee on Rules
  • April 2002 - February 2004 Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Purposes Committee
  • 22 May 2004 - May 2009 Minister of Human Resource[16]

He was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh without opposition on 20 March 2006.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
?
Union Human Resources Under Development Minister
1991–1994
Succeeded by
?
Preceded by
Murli Manohar Joshi
Union Human Resources Development Minister
2004-2009
Succeeded by
Kapil Sibal