FOR A seven-time MLA and minister in Uttar Pradesh governments under both BJP and the Congress, Hukum Singh has perhaps never been in the national headlines as much as he has been in the last three years, especially since his election as a Lok Sabha member.
It began with the riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, when Singh, who has been in electoral politics for more than 40 years, was named in a case of ‘hate speech’ related to the riots.
As Assembly elections draw closer in Uttar Pradesh, the Kairana MP has again hit the headlines. This time with his allegation that 346 Hindu families have been forced to migrate from the western UP town following atrocities from “one particular community”. While the state administration and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has hit back, dubbing his claims as lies, the MP says he stands by his list.
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The BJP seems to be standing by him with party chief Amit Shah raising the issue at the party’s National Executive in Allahabad. “The party is with me on this, although I am not doing it on anyone’s directive,” says Singh, who had started his political career with the Congress in 1974, winning his first election from Kairana. A two-time MLA from Congress and one-term Janata Party (Secular) legislator, Singh joined BJP in 1995 after losing two consecutive elections as a Congress nominee.
As the BJP candidate, he contested — and won — from Kairana in 1996, 2002, 2007 and 2012. Having lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election as a BJP nominee, he won in 2014 riding the Modi wave.
As the BJP legislature party leader in UP Assembly, Singh was known for his oratory. The best compliments often come from the Opposition ranks, and for Singh it came from state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan. In March 2013, Khan said in the House, “After knowing his virtues, I will only say that Hukum Singh-ji should become a Samajwadi with us.”
Politics, however, was not Singh’s first calling. A law graduate from Allahabad University, he started practice before he cleared PCS (J) exams in 1963. But instead of becoming a judicial officer, he joined the Army as a Commissioned Officer as China attacked India. He also took part in the 1965 Pakistan war before retiring. He restarted his law practice in 1969.
So where does he go from here, amid reports of U-turn on the Kairana ‘exodus’ issue? “I am firm on my stand. But I also never said that it was a communal issue. I never used the name of any religion in my allegations,” he said. As an astute politician Hukum Singh sure is.