'To keep the BJP out'

Print edition : March 21, 1998

Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav is upset - and he does not hide it. "If only all the U.F. constituents had improved their tally of seats, as the S.P. has done in Uttar Pradesh, the destiny of the country would have been different," he says. He feels that some constituent parties of the U.F. are taking the communal threat of the BJP lightly and not doing their bit to prevent the BJP from coming to power at the Centre. Excerpts from an interview Mulayam Singh Yadav gave Venkitesh Ramakrishnan.

How do you see the results and the post-poll situation?

The verdict is clear: there is no mandate for any party. The people want a coalition government. They have made it clear that no party enjoys their total confidence.

The U.F. has suffered the most and the BJP and its allies have improved their tally. The BJP claims that it has the mandate to rule since it has won the highest number of seats.

The point is whether constitutionally it has a majority. As of now, there are more MPs against the BJP than for it. The vote-share of secular parties is also more than that of the BJP and its allies.

SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

But there is no unity among the non-BJP forces. The Congress(I) and the U.F. are not in a position to come together.

The Congress(I) and the U.F. should come together. We have a fractured verdict. In this situation, any party that is committed to the national interest has to analyse what is the major threat. The fact is that the BJP is the bigger threat to the country, it being a fascist force. The immediate task is to defeat it. Otherwise all the great institutions of this country will be shattered by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-led Hindutva combine.

The Congress(I) pulled down the U..F. Government.

Nobody can live in the past. The point is to look towards the future of the country. And in our view, it is of paramount importance to keep the BJP out of power. The rationale behind the formation of the U.F. in 1996 was to fight the threat of the communal BJP. We should not forget that.

If the Congress(I) is committed to protecting secularism, it can support a U.F. government as it did in 1996.

It is for the Congress(I) to decide what it wants to do. But the fact is that the constituents of the U.F. have got fewer seats than last time. In 1996, the tally of the U.F. was higher than that of the Congress(I). This time it is not. If only all the U.F. constituents had improved their tally of seats, as the S.P. has done in U.P., the destiny of the country would have been different. I don't think that morally the U.F. had the right to stake its claim to form a government.

In U.P., do you not think the results would have been better for the S.P. and the U.F. if there was some agreement among all the U.F. constituents, including the Janata Dal and the CPI?

The electorate has already given the reply to this question. The S.P. fought along with the CPI(M) and won more seats than what the U.F. got in 1996. We were not against the unity of U.F. forces. All that we said was that each constituent party should objectively analyse its strength and make its demands accordingly. In U.P., both the Janata Dal and the CPI made unrealistic demands. These parties could not take even the second place in a single seat. If parties like this had been given 18 to 20 seats, the BJP's tally would have gone up further. But parties like the Janata Dal and the CPI did make one contribution: their supporters voted with the BJP in some places and saw to it that the S.P. lost a few seats. Our tally would have been higher at least by half a dozen seats if this had not happened. These parties can still correct their mistake and come back to the secular mainstream.

Voting figures have shown that the BJP would have been wiped out in all but 16 seats if the S.P. and the BSP had joined hands. In this situation, will the S.P. consider aligning with the BSP?

It is premature to say anything. But there is a message for the BSP also in this result. That party has won fewer seats while we have increased our tally.

Will you part ways with the U.F.?

It is the tragedy of the S.P. that it is always doubted. We fight the threat of the communal and fascist forces in the country's most populous State constantly, even sacrificing the lives of hundreds of S.P. workers. Yet when it comes to commitment to the cause of the U.F., the media looks at us with suspicion. It is strange, considering that unlike many so-called U.F. leaders, we have never compromised with communalists or their cohorts... We are committed to the U.F. cause of fighting communalism and hence our dedication to the U.F. should not be questioned.

Just because there are different opinions within the U.F. on some issues, you cannot conclude that the idea behind the formation of the U.F. is dead. In any case, the U.F. has not foreclosed all options. We are still negotiating. And hopefully, we will come to an understanding. Irrespective of the results of the negotiation, only one thing is constant for the S.P: its commitment to protect secularism and fight against communal, fascist forces.

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