Digvijaya Singh is an Indian politician and a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) who became a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha 10 April 2014. He has served as the General Secretary of the Indian National Congress party’s All India Congress Committee (2004 -2018). He served as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for two terms, from 1993 to 2003. From 1998 to 2008, he was a Member of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
Digvijaya Singh was born on Friday, 28 February 1947 (age 75 years; as of 2022) in Indore, Holkar State, British India (now in Madhya Pradesh, India). He did his schooling at Daly College, Indore. He pursued BE in Mechanical engineering at Shri Govindram Seksaria Institute of Technology and Science, Indore.
Parents & Siblings
Digvijaya Singh’s father, Raja Balbhadra Singh II, was the 12th ruler of the former princely state of Raghogarh in British India (now a town in Madhya Pradesh, India) and a former member of INC. After the independence, Balbhadra Singh was elected as an MLA from Raghogarh as an independent candidate. Digvijaya Singh’s mother, Rani Aparna Kumari, was the daughter of Maharaja Bahadur Chandra Mouleshwar Prasad Singh of Gidhaur. His younger brother, Laxman Singh, served as the MP from Rajgarh
Wife & Children
On 11 December 1969, he got married to Asha Singh (deceased).
An old picture of Digvijaya Singh with his wife, Asha Singh
Asha Digvijay Singh
Together, they have a son, Jaivardhan Singh, and four daughters, Mrinalini Kumari, Mandakini Kumari, Mradima Kumari, and Karnieka Kumari. Jaivardhan Singh is a politician and member of INC who was elected as MLA of Raghogarh in 2013.
Digvijaya Singh with his son, Jaivardhan Singh
Digvijaya Singh’s daughters
In 2013, Asha Singh, 58, died at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Vasant Kunj, due to cancer. In 2016, Singh’s youngest daughter, Karnieka Kumari, too died of cancer. In 2015, he got married to TV anchor Amrita Rai in Chennai. Rai who has worked in Star News NDTV Zee News and as a Senior Producer in RSTV. Previously, Amrita Rai was married to Anand Pradhan, an associate professor of journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi.
Digvijaya Singh and Amrita Rai
In April 2014, he took to Twitter to announce his relationship with TV anchor and journalist Amrita Rai. He tweeted,
I have no hesitation in accepting my relationship with Amrita Rai. She and her husband have already filed a mutual consent divorce case…Once that is decided we would formalise it. But I do condemn encroachment in our private life.”
Similarly, Amrita Singh also tweeted,
I have separated from my husband and we have filed a mutual consent divorce papers. After which I have decided to marry with Digvijaya Singh.”
The couple took to Twitter to announce their relationship after their intimate picture went viral on the internet.
Digvijaya Singh follows Hinduism. In a blog posted by The Times of India, Singh revealed that Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Dwarka and Joshi Math carried out his initiation rituals in 1983. He wrote,
I am a practicing Hindu. I was given Diksha by his holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Dwarka and Joshi Math in 1983. I regularly pray every day for half an hour and have been doing this since 1969 when I was given Gayatri Mantra after I got my ‘Yagyo Pavit Sansakar.”
On April 9 2018, Digvijaya Singh, along with his wife Amrita Rai and 200 followers, concluded the Narmada parikrama, a 3,300 km pilgrimage by foot circumambulating the course of the river over the period of four months. The couple started the journey on 30 September 2017 from Barman Ghat. The sacred Narmada River, considered the lifeline of Central India, is worshipped as Narmada maiyya (mother) or Ma Rewa (derived from “rev” meaning leaping one).
Digvijaya Singh and his wife Amrita Rai during ‘Narmada Parikrama’ at Jhakli village in Gadarwara district of Madhya Pradesh
Ethnicity & Caste
Digvijaya Singh was born in the royal family of Raghogarh principality, now in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh as the heir to the 12th Raja of Raghogarh, Raja Balbhadra Singh II. He belongs to the House of Raghogarh- Kheechiwara of the Khichi Chauhan Dynasty, i.e., Khichi Rajputs of the Chauhan clan.
He was the President of Raghogarh Municipal Corporation in 1969. In 1971, he began his political journey after joining Indian National Congress (INC). From 1976 to 1978, he was the director of Central Cooperative Bank, Guna. He was nominated as President of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee by Rajiv Gandhi in 1984; he held the position till 1988. He was again nominated as the President of the MP Congress Committee in 1992. General Secretary of All India Congress Committee of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh 1993 – 2003 (two terms) He was a part of the six-member committee that had been appointed under the chairmanship of INC Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to coordinate the preparations for the general elections in 2014.
1977 Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly Elections
In 1977, he contested from the Raghogarh Assembly constituency and won the seat defeating the Janata Party candidate Dinesh Chandra Sharma by 2251 votes.
1980 Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly Elections
In 1980, he contested from the Raghogarh Assembly constituency and won the seat defeating BJP candidate Harbir Singh by 19,039 votes. Thereafter, he became a Minister in Arjun Singh’s Cabinet in which he handled the portfolios of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry Fisheries Irrigation and Command Area Development.
1984 General Elections
In 1984, he contested and won the Rajgarh Lok Sabha seat defeating BJP candidate Jamnalal by a margin of 1,52,097 votes.
1989 General Elections
In 1989, he contested from the Rajgarh Lok Sabha constituency but lost the seat to BJP candiate Pyarela Khandelwar, who won by 67,424 votes.
1991 General Elections
In 1991, he contested and won the Rajgarh Lok Sabha defeating BJP candidate Pyarelal Khandelwal by 1470 votes. However, he resigned from the post of MP from Rajgarh when he was sworn in as the CM of Madhya Pradesh in 1993. The seat was retained by his brother Laxman Singh in the 1994 by-election.
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (1993–2003)
On 7 December 1993, Digvijaya Singh was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
1994 Bye-Elections on Chachoura Assembly Seat
In 1994, while serving as the CM of Madhya Pradesh, he contested and won the Chachoura Assembly Seat defeating the BJP candidate Ram Valabh by 38,894 votes. During the 1993 Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections, the seat was won by INC candidate Shivnarayan Meena. Shivnarayan vacated the seat in favour of Digvijaya as he needed to be elected to the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly in order to fulfill his role as Chief Minister.
1998 Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly Elections
In 1998, he contested and won the Raghogarh Assembly seat defeating BJP candidate Chanchal Kumar Jain by 54, 161 votes. The elections concluded with INC winning a majority of seats after which Digvijaya Singh was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the second time.
2003 Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly Elections
In 2003, he contested and won the Raghogarh Assembly seat defeating BJP candidate Shivraj Singh Chouhan 21,164 votes, but his party overall was heavily defeated by the BJP. Thereafter, Uma Bharti was sworn in as the Chief Minister Madhya Pradesh. Following his defeat as CM of Madhya Pradesh, he went on a self-imposed exile from electoral politics for the next ten years.
As a Rajya Sabha Member
On 10 April 2014, he became a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh.
2019 General Elections
In 2019, he contested the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat but lost it to BJP candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur by 3,64,822 votes.
Slammed For Not Casting His Vote During 2019 General Elections
In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed at Digvijaya Singh for not casting his vote, citing that the Congress leader was setting an unhealthy example for young voters. While hitting out at Digvijaya during an election rally, Modi said,
The country is electing its representatives, even I went to Ahmedabad to cast my vote. President and Vice President of the country were standing in queues to cast their votes. But Diggi Raja didn’t feel the need to cast his vote.”
Additionally, former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said Digvijaya’s decision not to vote showed his attitude towards democracy. At that time, Digvijaya was contesting the polls from the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency.
Compared Arvind Kejriwal with Rakhi Sawant
In 2012, Digvijaya Singh tweeted,
Arvind Kejriwal is like Rakhi Sawant . They both try and expose but with no substance. Apologies to Rakhi Sawant I am an old fan of hers !”
Hitting back at Singh over his alleged remark, Sawant said the Congress General Secretary had gone out of his senses. She said,
He has gone out of his senses. Considering him a smart and intelligent person, I was a big fan of him, but today he attacked me. He used my shoulder to fire on Kejriwal. He shouldn’t compare me with Kejriwal Bhai.”
The following day after the remark, Rakhi Sawant wrote a complaint letter against the politician to the commissioner of Mumbai police. In the letter, she requested to register an FIR against Singh for outraging the modesty of a woman/female, charges of passing lewd remarks and eve teasing, abusing, mischief, passing defamatory remakes, and false statement and rumour etc against her.
Faced Criticism for Viral Pictures With Amrita Rai
In 2014, private pictures of Amrita Rai and Digvijaya Singh went viral on the internet after her email accounts were allegedly hacked. Following the incident, Amrita Rai filled an FIR with Delhi police under section 66A of the IT Act and section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). Following the incident, Amrita and Digvijaya took to Twitter to announce their relationship.
Trolled On Twitter For His Remarks Against PM Narendra Modi
In 2017, Digvijaya Singh received criticism for posting a tweet that used abusive language against PM Narendra Modi but later disowned it saying “retweets are not endorsements.”
Digvijaya Singh’s tweet against PM Narendra Modi
After that, Singh was slammed by many on the social media network who claimed that taking a dig at the PM was equivalent to insulting the nation.
Sexist Remarks Against Meenakshi Natarajan
In 2013, Digvijaya attracted controversy when he described Meenakshi Natrajan, Congress MP from Mandsaur, as “sau tunch maal” (totally unblemished). The slang loosely translates to “a desirable object.” The remark sparked outrage among rights activists for its alleged sexist tone. However, Singh claimed that his remark meant that Natarajan was like “pure gold” and threatened legal action against TV channels for wrongly reporting it. On the contrary, Natarajan said she wasn’t offended saying that “his statement has to be looked at in complete perspective. He has appreciated my work.”
MP Recruitment Scam Case
In 2016, he was accused of an alleged recruitment scam at the Assembly Secretariat during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. A non-bailable warrant was issued against Singh after he failed to appear in court despite being called to attend the trial. Additionally, a 169-page supplementary charge sheet was also filed in the case accusing Singh and seven others of forgery, cheating, conspiracy and misusing their positions and corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Later, the court granted bail to Singh after he furnished a bond of Rs 30,000. The case is a fallout of the Vyapam scam, an alleged recruitment scam in government jobs and also in admission to medical and dental colleges in Madhya Pradesh.
Arrested For Sit-in Protest in Bengaluru
In 2020, a political crisis arose in Madhya Pradesh with the resignation of Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 MLAs from Congress which led to the fall of the Kamal Nath government. The Congress MLAs were later lodged in a resort in Bengaluru. Thereafter, Digvijaya staged a protest accusing the police of not allowing him to meet the Congress leaders who BJP had held captive. On contrary, MLAs clarified that they were “not kept captive” by anyone but were of their own free will. The MLAs also claimed they were in Bengaluru because “they were not safe in Madhya Pradesh.” Singh alleged that BJP had tried to lure the Congress MLAs with money by offering them up to Rs 30 crore each. Consequently, Digvijaya was detained briefly and released later.
Digvijaya Singh (in white) sitting on a protest near Ramada hotel in Bengaluru after he was allegedly not allowed by police to meet rebel Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh
Alleging that Batla House Encounter Case was Fake
In 2011, Singh attracted controversy when he claimed the Batla House encounter case, which led to the death of two terrorists and one police officer, was fake. He also demanded a further judicial probe into it. His allegations were dismissed by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram stating that several probes had proved Batla House to be a genuine encounter and there was no scope for reopening the case. The comment also led to disagreements within Congress who believed that the encounter case should not be politicised or raked up for political gains.
Remarks on Osama bin Laden’s Burial
In 2011, he made headlines for his controversial remarks about the sea burial given to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by the US. Singh said, “However big a criminal one might be, his religious traditions should be respected while burying him.” Consequently, the Congress leadership distanced itself from Singh’s views. Later, he clarified that his statement should not be interpreted as support for or opposition to bin Laden. He said that “I had merely said that the worst of criminals should be cremated according to their faith. He is a terrorist and he deserved the treatment that he got.”
Ujjain Assault Case
In 2022, an Indore district court sentenced Digvijaya Singh and six others to one year’s rigorous imprisonment in a case related to a clash with protesting workers of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 2011. The court later granted bail to all the convicts on a surety of Rs 25,000 each. Singh alleged that his name was not even in the FIR and “was added later under political pressure.”
CBI Probe Into the Killing of Sunil Joshi
In 2010, he stepped up an attack on BJP and RSS and demanded a CBI probe into the killing of Sunil Joshi, an RSS activist linked to the Ajmer Dargah blasts of 2007, alleging that Joshi was killed because he “knew too much.” He accused the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh of closing the Joshi murder case without finding out the facts. He also stated that the right-wing extremist organisations were grave threat to national unity.
When they (RSS) cannot forgive their own pracharak, then what will they do to others?”
- He is also referred to as Diggi raja. His name is also spelt as Dig Vijay Singh.
- He is fond of visiting wildlife parks, wildlife photography, sports, and classical Hindi music.
- He has also served as the President of Guna Central Lions Club.
- He was first elected as a Member of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1977 from Raghogarh in Guna District from where his father, Balbhadra Singh, was elected as an MP in the 1952 general elections.
- A keen sportsman since childhood, he represented his school in various sports like hockey, cricket, and football. He also played cricket, hockey, tennis, and squash at the university level. He has played for the Central Zone cricket team. Apart from that, he played Squash at the national level (junior).
- In an interview, Digvijaya revealed that Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia offered him to join Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) in 1970. BJS was an Indian right-wing political party extending from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that existed from 1951 to 1977. Digvijaya said that Rajmata had sent him on a tour along with her son Madhavrao Scindia and Kailash Sarang, but the two failed to convince him to join the Jana Sangh.
- He is the first officeholder to serve two full five-year terms as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
- Under his leadership, Madhya Pradesh bagged three prestigious international awards for development achievements. In 1998, the Education Guarantee Scheme won the Gold Award of CAPAM (Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management) in Kuala Lumpur for universalising access to primary education. The Gyandoot project was awarded the Stockholm challenge information technology (IT) award in 2000 for public service and democracy. Rogi Kalyan Samiti ( Patients’ Welfare Society ) initiative has won the Global Development Network Award for breathing a new life in government-run hospitals and health institutions through people’s participation.
- In recognition of his efforts in conserving water and soil, Singh was invited to participate in the World Water Forum held at The Hague in March 2000. He was also invited to share his view on poverty reduction strategies at the Social Summit of the UN General Assembly in Geneva in July 2000. For his innovative style of governance, he was invited to participate in the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2001.
- After a ten-year-long electoral exile, in 2014, Digvijaya Singh communicated his wish to contest the Lok Sabha polls from the Vidisha constituency, which was then represented by BJP leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. However, he was instead elected as a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh in the same year.
- In 1993, when Digvijaya assumed the position of CM of Madhya Pradesh, his brother, Lakshman Singh, vacated the Raghogarh assembly seat for Digvijaya as he needed to be elected to the Legislative Assembly in order to fulfil his role as CM. However, the scheme failed when a petition was filed challenging the validity of Lakshman’s 1993 election. Therefore, Digvijaya turned to the Chachoura assembly seat vacated by the Shivnarayan Meena at that time for the purpose.