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Summary Article: Singh, Vishwanath Pratap
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Indian politician, prime minister 1989–90. As a member of the Congress (I) Party, he held ministerial posts under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and from 1984 led an anti-corruption drive. When he unearthed an arms-sales scandal in 1988, he was ousted from the government and party and formed a broad-based opposition alliance, the Janata Dal, which won the November 1989 election. His government implemented an official commission's recommendations to reserve a fixed number of public sector jobs for the historically disadvantaged members of the lower classes, or castes. But mounting caste and communal conflict split the Janata Dal and forced him out of office in November 1990. He helped form the United Front coalition, which defeated the Congress Party in 1996, but declined to become prime minister again.

Singh was born in Allahabad, the son of a landed family, but was brought up by a local Maharaja (principality). He studied law and physics at college, but decided on a career in politics, being elected to parliament as a member of the Congress party in 1971. He was minister of commerce 1976–77 and 1983, Uttar Pradesh chief minister 1980–82, minister of finance 1984–86, and minister of defence 1986–87, when he revealed the embarrassing Bofors scandal. Respected for his probity and sense of principle, Singh emerged as one of the most popular politicians in India. After battling cancer, in 2005 he returned to active politics to re-form the socialist Jan Morcha (People's Front) party in northern India in 2005, but it had little success in elections.

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