By sending the “Raja of Amethi” to the Rajya Sabha and fielding his wife in Sultanpur, the Congress might have thought it had won the royal family over. What neither the party nor the family had reckoned for was the emergence of a “rajkumar”.
Anant Vikram Singh, Sanjay Sinh’s son from his first marriage to Garima, has started moving around Sultanpur and Amethi, claiming the “legacy” of his forefathers and challenging the claim of Sanjay’s current wife Amita. Sanjay says people are misguiding his son.
Anant, 34, is a former Merchant Navy officer who says he quit in 2011 as chief officer. Away from home for 17 years, he has started holding chaupals, attending weddings and religious functions, and telling people he has come to “bridge the gap between the family and the people”.
As Amethi and Sultanpur start wondering if he intends to contest, Anant clarifies this election is not his target but does not deny the possibility of laying the ground for the 2017 assembly polls.
“We are watching his movements,” concedes Yogendra Mishra, the Congress’s Amethi district president. “He has not made any political statement yet and is not even opposing anyone, apart from Amita Singh.”
Anant says without hesitation, “So far, the only point of difference between my father and me was that I refuse to accept Amitaji as family because that would mean distancing my mother. My relationship with my father was fine until recently, when I started visiting Amethi.” He visited the palace but did not stay long as his father wasn’t there.
Anant accepts that during his holidays he used to stay at his father’s house in Delhi but adds he started living independently after he got married in 2006. In 2013, he moved into his mother’s home in Lucknow and then started making occasional visits to Amethi.
“Since 1996, I had not been in touch with Amethi,” he says. “When I started meeting people, they told me they cannot approach my father directly. That has never been the tradition of Amethi. As a child, I used to move in the vehicle of my grandfather and I still remember how easily people could approach him. For me, it started gradually. Invitations to weddings and religious functions started coming, and then people wanted me to sit with them.”
Sanjay Sinh, campaigning for Amita in Sultanpur, says, “He will not damage us but I am afraid he has become a puppet in the hands of others, who are trying to use him as a spoiler,” he says.
“For 17 years, he was living away from his mother and it was Amita and I who took care of him. If he is now making statements that are not part of our culture, there is no point calling me father either.”