By Omkar Arora
Amethi goes to polls in the 5th phase of UP elections. Much has been talked about the “Rani vs Rani” battle between Garima Singh, the estranged wife of the erstwhile ruler Sanjay Singh and his current Queen Ameeta Sinh. The mainstream media has projected it as a straightforward BJP vs Congress fight or the fight for Amethi and what not.
There is almost no information regarding the history of the two candidates and the family (bar a footnote in an NDTV article), but the truth is Sanjay Singh and Ameeta married in controversial circumstances and were blamed for the murder of Syed Modi, Indian badminton’s rising star, then, and a gold medalist at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games 1982.
Ameeta and Syed Modi
The Past: Ameeta Sinh (then Kulkarni) was born in an affluent Maharashtrian family in Mumbai in 1962, a champion badminton herself she first met Syed Modi as a 16-year-old while preparing for an international tournament in Beijing. The two soon hit it off and were married hastily in a registry marriage amidst protests from both families. Naturally tensions arose and not just because of the difference in their backgrounds, but also because of the professional issues, jealousies, and one-upmanship between the two ambitious, target-oriented, over-achieving individuals (A CBI report also pointed out religious differences, duh). But the most important issue was the involvement of Sanjay Singh, a classmate of Rajiv Gandhi and by then already married to Garima Singh with two children. Sanjay Singh first met Ameeta in 1984 and the two soon began an illicit extra-marital affair which increased the cracks in the Modi-Ameeta relationship. Ameeta knowing well that Modi would occasionally read her diary, teased him by writing about her relationship with Sanjay. Modi became so paranoid that he doubted whether their daughter, born in in 1988, was his or Sanjay’s! That very year while coming out of practice at the KD Singh Babu stadium in Lucknow he was shot dead by a hired goon.
The Royal Palace in Amethi
A CBI chargesheet did name Ameeta and Sanjay Singh but they were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence and the two soon married without Sanjay Singh divorcing Garima Singh and Ameeta formally moved into the Bhupati Bhawan palace of the royal family.
Rani Ameeta Singh and Raja Sanjay Singh
Today: Garima Singh is still fighting for her honour and her place in Amethi’s dynastic politics and with BJP fielding her as candidate she does stand a chance of winning. The people of Amethi have a choice to make between the two Ranis and the gangster Gayatri Prajapati who happens to be the sitting MLA. Both the Ranis accuse each other of being incapable and the slugfest has evolved into a meerkat fight. As a local told Outlook Magazine, “Ab to lagta hai Ramji hi Amethi ko bachayenge”. Ramji happens to be the candidate put up by the BSP.
Who’ll win Amethi, who’ll get to be the Rani of Amethi and whether development is even the core issue here is all to be seen.
Rani Garima Singh