‘Alwar ka maalik’: Jitendra Singh, Rahul aide and Sonia political panel’s youngest face

Besides senior Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Mallikarjun Kharge, the eight-member Political Affairs Group constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to advise her on major political issues include party functionary Jitendra Singh, who is its youngest member.

The inclusion of 50-year-old Singh in this top Congress panel may be a significant elevation for him, but it is not surprising. He has always been a key member of Team Rahul, who has had a meteoric rise in the Congress – and in the previous party-led UPA government.

Singh, who belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Alwar, is among few Congress leaders from Rajasthan, such as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, C P Joshi and Sachin Pilot, who have the party leadership’s ears.

A two-term MLA, Singh won from the Alwar parliamentary constituency in the 2009 general elections. However, despite being a first-time MP, he was inducted into the UPA ministry as the minister of state for home affairs in 2011.

Barely 15 months later, in October 2012, when the then PM Manmohan Singh carried out his ministry reshuffle, Jitendra Singh was made the MoS for defence as well as the MoS (independent charge) for youth affairs and sports.

A member of the Congress Working Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, Singh is currently All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of Assam.

While he apparently keeps himself away from state politics, Singh is known as “Alwar ka maalik” in Rajasthan Congress circles. A party leader says that although the party has some strong local leaders in the Alwar region, “Singh has the most say as to who gets the MLA ticket from Alwar or who should be made a minister, among other things”.

For instance, Alwar rural MLA Tikaram Jully, who is currently the minister for social justice and empowerment in the Gehlot-led state government, is known to be close to Singh.

Jitendra’s father, Pratap Singh, was a scion of the erstwhile ruling family of Alwar. His mother Mahendra Kumari was the daughter of Bundi’s last king Maharaja Bahadur Singh. Her hobbies involved keeping show dogs and pet lions. She had joined the BJP and got elected as an MP from Alwar in 1991.

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While he keeps a low profile, Singh remains in the news. In November last year, he was in the spotlight after a Bundi court issued an arrest warrant against him and two others in an alleged forgery case, which was however stayed later. He was accused of allegedly forging his uncle’s signature to transfer the properties to himself.

In April this year, he was at a grand “Raj Tilak” ceremony of Vanshvardhan Singh as the 26th head of the erstwhile Bundi royal family. It was Jitendra who placed the “paag” (traditional headgear) of his uncle late Ranjit Singh on Vanshvardhan’s head in the midst of a host of other ceremonies and rituals.

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