At a press conference in Lucknow, when infighting within the Samajwadi Party was at its peak, MP and close confidante of Mulayam Singh Yadav Amar Singh said: “One leader who cannot even speak proper Hindi is projecting himself as a big neta and is calling the shots in Samajwadi Party. He has poisoned the Chief Minister’s mind against other family members.”
The man Amar Singh was referring to was Kiranmoy Nanda, the national vice-president of the party. Nanda was known to be close to Mulayam Singh Yadav, but during the family feud he sided with Akhilesh Yadav and toppled Mulayam Singh Yadav from the post of national president of Samajwadi Party at the national convention on January 1.
“Netaji (read Mulayam Singh Yadav) is still my leader. What I did was necessary. I realised making Akhilesh the national president of the party was essential. I presided over the meeting where Akhilesh was unanimously elected as national president and Mulayam Singh Yadav ji was made the Marg Darshak,” Nanda told this reporter.
But how did a political leader from Bengal with no roots in Uttar Pradesh and without much of a mass base in Bengal either come to occupy such a prominent position and get so close to Mulayam Singh Yadav? There was a time when he was deemed to be Mulayam Singh Yadav’s eyes and ears.
“Netaji is still my leader. What I did was necessary. I realised making Akhilesh the national president of the party was essential. I presided over the meeting where Akhilesh was unanimously elected as national president and Mulayam Singh Yadav ji was made the Marg Darshak.”Kiranmoy Nanda
It was their socialist connection, he claims, that brought him close to Mulayam. Nanda had founded the West Bengal Socialist Party and was an MLA in West Bengal Assembly for 35 years. He was also the Fisheries Minister in the Left Front Government for 30 years.
“I had good relations with all top socialist leaders of India like George Fernandes and Madhu Limaye. I introduced Mulayam Singh ji to many of these leaders and helped in building his pan-India image,” he said and added: “Probably that’s why I was made in-charge of the organisation outside UP like in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan.”
He also claims to have been instrumental in brokering a deal with Mamata Banerjee during the Presidential election of 2012, but Mulayam Singh Yadav backed out at the last minute even after holding a joint press conference with Mamata in Delhi. It was Nanda who, after meeting with Nitish Kumar and Rabri Devi, included the Samajwadi party in the ‘Maha Gathbandhan’ (grand alliance) ahead of the Bihar election, but again Mulayam backed out. Nanda, however, is not keen to dwell on these issues and explain what happened.
Even after such political somersaults Nanda remained loyal to Mulayam and the leader reciprocated by giving him a post in the Parliamentary Board of Samajwadi Party—which comprises almost entirely of the Yadav family members.
It is not that everything was always smooth for him in the Samajwadi Party. He had his bête noir in the form of Amar Singh, who had added glamour in Samajwadi party and arranged funds as and when required. In comparison to him, Nanda was both mild and far too docile. Not surprisingly he was pushed to the sidelines as long as Amar Singh called the shots in the party.
“I left Samajwadi Party in 1997 because of Amar Singh. I rejoined SP when Amar Singh was thrown out.”Kiranmoy Nanda
“I left Samajwadi Party in 1997 because of Amar Singh,” he concedes but refuses to elaborate on the real reason. “I rejoined SP when Amar Singh was thrown out,” he confirms.
Nanda may not be as flamboyant as Amar Singh but had also raised funds for the party “as and when required.” By his own admission he had organised five national executive meets in Kolkata. “I have not taken a single penny from the party or Netaji for organising such national events,” he said.
A senior party leader confirmed to this reporter that a few months back when he had gone to meet Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then SP chief had showed him a cheque for ₹2 crore and said: “Nanda ji has given it for the party.”
Nanda, when told of the conversation, smiles and says “Everyone helps the party. I also contributed my bit.”