Buta Singh, a loyal associate of Indira Gandhi, was Home Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government during 1986-89. As a supporter of Operation Blue Star, that eliminated the Bhindranwale resistance from the Golden Temple, Amritsar, he earned the displeasure of sections of Sikhs. Singh was excommunicated by the Akal Takht and he shifted to Rajasthan.
Home Ministers were not normally presented at the annual Economic Editors’ Conferences [EECs]. The one exception earlier was that of Charan Singh who had a lot to contribute to economic policy during the Janata government, 1977-79. A dynamic senior official of PIB, K S Ramanathan, squeezed a session in the evening not scheduled earlier, to present Charan Singh at the 1977 EEC. It proved to be the best.
Buta Singh was first elected to the Parliament in 1962. He has served as Union Minister for Agriculture, Railways, Commerce and Sports… He was also the National President of Schedule Castes Commission, Governor for West Bengal and Bihar.
Singh participated in the EECs during 1986-89. Those years witnessed the violent Khalistan agitation in Punjab. I remember the posse of security men leading Buta Singh to the sessions! Buta Singh believed in strong action against the insurgents and saw the moment curbed by the end of the decade of the 1980s.
Singh quit Congress in the late 1990s to become an independent MP and briefly served as minister under Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. – SV