Childhood & Early Life
V. P. Singh was born on June 25, 1931 in the Rajput Gahawar (Rathore) zamindar family of Daiya to Raja Bhagwati Prasad Singh. In 1936, he was adopted by Raja Bahadur Ram Gopal Singh, the ruler of of Manda.
He received his formal education from Colonel Brown Cambridge School, Dehra Dun, and later studied at the Allahabad and Pune (Poona) universities. In 1947-48, he served as the President of the Students Union at Udai Pratap College, Varanasi, and later became the Vice President of Allahabad University Students Union.
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In 1969, he joined the Indian National Congress Party and became a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh. In 1971, he won the Lok Sabha elections and became a Member of Parliament. In 1974, he was elected the Union Deputy Minister of Commerce and from November 1976 to March 1977, he served as the Union State Minister of Commerce.
In 1980, he was appointed the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a post he held until 1982. During his tenure, he worked hard to eradicate the dacoit problem in south-western Uttar Pradesh.
In 1983, he resumed his post as Minister of Commerce in the cabinet. He also held additional charge of the Department of Supply and became the Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).
In September 1984, he was elected President of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee. Upon the death of Indira Gandhi in October 1984, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed him the Union Finance Minister on December 31, 1984.
In January 1987, he was transferred to the post of minister of defense but he resigned from Gandhi’s cabinet later that year, after his investigations of arms-procurement fraud were squelched. Soon afterwards, he resigned from the government altogether and left the Congress Party.
After resigning as a Congress cabinet minister, he established an opposition party called ‘Jan Morcha’. He was elected to Lok Sabha once again in the tightly contested by-election in Allahabad.
Thereafter he founded the Janata Dal (JD), a merger of small centrist opposition parties - Jan Morcha, Janata Party, Lok Dal, and Congress (S). With the help of Janata Dal, he soon assembled a larger nationwide opposition coalition called the National Front (NF), which contested the general parliamentary elections of November 1989 alongside BJP and the Communist parties.
National Front won the elections and he became the Prime Minister of India on December 2, 1989. After the state legislative elections in March 1990, his governing coalition achieved control of both houses of India’s parliament.
During his tenure as the Prime Minister, on the recommendation of the Mandal Commission, he passed a fixed quota reservation for all jobs in public sector for people falling under the historically disadvantaged “Other Backward classes” (OBC). This resulted in strong objection from non-OBC youths in urban areas of North India.
He was ousted when BJP withdrew support to the National Front government after its leader L.K. Advani was arrested on Singh’s orders during a Rath Yatra that supported a construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. He resigned on November 7, 1990, after receiving a vote of no confidence in the Lok Sabha.
Later he toured India giving public lectures and speeches concerning social justice and pursued his artistic interests, especially painting. But after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, he stopped making public appearances.
Personal Life & Legacy
On June 25, 1955, he had an arranged marriage with Sita Kumari, the daughter of the Raja of Deogarh-Madaria, Rajasthan. The couple was blessed with two sons - Ajay Singh, born in 1957 and Abhai Singh, born in 1958.
On November 27, 2008, he died after a long struggle with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer) and renal failure in Delhi, India. He was cremated on the banks of the River Ganges in Allahabad.