The Akhilesh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh Monday appointed former BSP MP Vijay Bahadur Singh as the new Advocate General (AG). Singh was expelled by BSP chief Mayawati from the party last year for supporting a controversial statement made by the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in reference to Gujarat riots.
The post of AG had been lying vacant after the cabinet removed Vinay Chandra Mishra on July 29. Singh is the third AG to be appointed by the Akhilesh Yadav government after Mishra and his predecessor S P Gupta.
A senior lawyer, Singh made his electoral debut in 2009 as a BSP candidate and was elected from Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat. He was, however, denied the party ticket after he angered Mayawati by describing as “sensitive” a remark made by Modi in the context of the Gujarat riots. In an interview last year, Modi was quoted as having said that even if a puppy comes under the wheels of a car, one feels sad.
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Mayawati first suspended and then expelled him. Singh joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in April this year.
Singh who assumed charge on Monday and entered AG’s official address, 1 Kalidas Marg, refused to comment on the statements he had made about Modi. “That is in the past. Whatever I say, I say from my heart. Ask me about Samajwadi Party now,” he said.
He credited Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav for his appointment and said he will try to fulfil the responsibility given to him “by ensuring fair and quick justice for everyone”.
Singh said there was no transition as such for him from a politician to AG. “Judiciary is my life, where I spent 70 per cent of my career. I have spent 35 years as a lawyer,” he told The Indian Express.
However, he added that he is not leaving politics either. “Politics is like oxygen for everyone. Of course, I can return to politics anytime. It is like being an actor. One has to keep changing the roles,” he said.
On being the third AG in less than three years of Akhilesh government, he said: “I have to do my job as long as I am here. We know that there is no fix tenure for this post.”
If his appointment as AG in the SP government has surprised some, his entry into politics five years ago had come as a shock. Before joining the BSP and getting a ticket from the party, Singh had been a lawyer for food and civil supplies minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya and appeared for the Kunda MLA in cases including the one under POTA, slapped during Mayawati government in 2003.
“Yes, I appeared in Supreme Court for Raja Bhaiyya in the POTA case. The charges were wrong,” he said.
Singh’s family hails from Rewa in Madhya Pradesh but he has been residing in Allahabad, where he is a lawyer. According to BSP sources, Singh was known for his proximity to BSP general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui, largely credited for him getting a BSP ticket in 2009.