Arjun Singh’s politics of culture, courtesy and conspiracy

First Print 2 Dec 18


This was the most hush-hush trip I have ever undertaken in my long professional career as a journalist. We were travelling, but did not know the destination. Neither did we know why we had embarked upon that mysterious journey, veiled in secrecy from the very beginning. All this at the behest of one man – Arjun Singh, the Machiavellian master of political intrigues.

The suave and sophisticated chief minister of Madhya Pradesh always did things in style. He had the knack of turning mundane into mystery. It all started with that intriguing phone call.

It was January 1982. I was hammering at the keys of my typewriter, trying to finish a story for the Indian Express, the newspaper I represented at Bhopal. Kunwar Sahib, as Singh was known in political circles, asked me whether I was free in the last week of the month. The last week of the month was still a good three weeks away. I replied in the affirmative.

Kunwar Sahib was known as a man of few words: “May I request you to keep those days reserved for me.”

“Sure, but what is it?”

“I can’t tell you right now. But it is personal, and very important to me. Kindly treat it as a personal request from me. And please keep it confidential.”

Arjun Singh was one of the most courteous politicians I have met. He would always make it a point to get up from the chair to greet me and would not start any conversation before enquiring about my family. Continue reading “Arjun Singh’s politics of culture, courtesy and conspiracy”