Twenty years after the anti-Sikh riots, Sajjan Kumar was campaigning as a Congress candidate, aiming for his third term in Lok Sabha. “I am unstoppable in outer Delhi,” he asserted in an interview to web portal Rediff Results showed he was right: Kumar registered a thumping victory over former Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma by 1.7 lakh votes. He had represented the constituency, the largest in India in terms of vote share before the 2008 delimitation, twice before.
The influential Jat leader, along with Lalit Maken, HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler and Dharam Das Shastri, dominated the city’s politics through the late 1970s and early 1980s, BJP leader R P Singh said. Ironically, the Delhi assembly website, which lists all former legislators, says Kumar is “active against religious fundamentalism and communalism” in the “social and cultural activities” segment.
Said to be a Sanjay Gandhi protege, Kumar became a municipal councillor and was also made the general secretary of the Congress’s Delhi unit in 1977. But his real ascent began with his victory over the first CM of Delhi, Chaudhary Brahm Prakash, in the 1980 general elections. Kumar was replaced by Choudhary Bharat Singh in the elections held just after the 1984 riots.
Singh lost the outer Delhi seat in 1989. The door opened again for Kumar, who won his second term by defeating Verma. He lost the 1996 polls. After spending eight years in political wilderness, Kumar got another shot in 2004, when he was pitted against Verma, BJP’s Jat face.
In 2009, Kumar did not get a ticket from the Congress, bowing to public pressure. Jarnail Singh, who would later become an AAP legislator, had thrown shoes at the then Home Minister P Chidambaram during a press conference, protesting against tickets to Kumar and Tytler.
But Kumar’s influence was reflected in the Congress’s decision to field his brother Ramesh Kumar from the south Delhi Lok Sabha seat. His brother defeated the BJP candidate. Kumar even managed to get a ticket for his only son, Pravesh, to contest the 2013 assembly polls from Sangam Vihar. However, he lost.
In the 2004 poll affidavit, Kumar had declared assets worth Rs 72,000. His son declared assets worth Rs 19 crore in 2013.