the only Sikh MP

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
4 Min Read

Vivek Shukla
Some shopkeepers in Shankar Market of Connaught Place can still be found discussing the 1980 Lok Sabha elections. At that time, these people or some of their associates were campaigning for the Congress candidate Charanjit Singh, who was contesting from South Delhi seat. Charanjit Singh's Coca Cola factory was in Shankar Market. The dilapidated building of that factory is still standing. It has been a long time since it was closed. Charanjit Singh had created a record by winning that election. He became the first Sikh to reach the Lok Sabha from Delhi. After him, no Sikh was ever elected to the Lok Sabha from Delhi. Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had unsuccessfully tried to reach the Lok Sabha from South Delhi in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. The 1980 general elections were forced on the country. Actually, in 1977, the country had handed over power to the Janata Party with full enthusiasm. But, this government fell due to infighting among the leaders. When elections were held before time, the country was upset with the Janata Party.

Congress gave the ticket from South Delhi to Charanjit Singh, who was a novice in the world of politics. At the time of nomination itself it was known who Charanjit Singh was. Mohan Singh Palace in Connaught Place is named after his father, Sardar Mohan Singh. He was also the Deputy Chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). Tibet Market of Janpath was created due to his efforts. Well, Janata Party has fielded Vijay Kumar Malhotra against Charanjit Singh. He was elected from this seat in 1977. He was the 'old rice' of Delhi politics. Had been the Chief Executive Councilor of Delhi (equivalent to the Chief Minister). Congress was very aggressive in the election campaign, while Janata Party looked weak from the beginning.

Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who is now 95 years old, once said that the voters were very angry with us due to the breakup of the Janata Party. On the other hand, Charanjit Singh was spending a lot of money in his campaign. At that time, the Election Commission's whip did not work like it does today. When the election results came, Charanjit Singh defeated Vijay Kumar Malhotra by more than one lakh votes. In this way, Delhi sent a Sikh to the Lok Sabha for the first time. In that Lok Sabha election, Atal Bihari Vajpayee somehow won from the New Delhi seat. The Janata Party lost on the remaining six seats. Charanjit Singh later also opened Hotel Le Meridien. After 1980, he never tried his hand in politics again.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own.

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