Mulayam Singh Yadav was in the middle of a group of agitated party activists, including MLAs and MPs, who were of the opinion that other U.F. constituents, had betrayed him. But he tried to calm them down and said that they should not forget in the heat of the moment that the party's main objective was to defeat communal forces. Excerpts from an interview he gave Venkitesh Ramakrishnan:
What impact will the developments have on your party?
The rise of the communal BJP to power is definitely a cause for concern for S.P. workers, since they have been in the forefront of the struggles against communalism. There is a feeling in the party that in this round the fight against the communal forces was not fought well because many in the U.F. have no real ground-level experience of fighting the BJP or understanding of the situation in U.P. This State has been one of the main targets of the communal forces and we have systematically sought to curb them. We shall continue to fight until communalism is vanquished.
Could you explain how the Cabinet's initial decision was taken and how it was reversed?
As a member of the Cabinet I am a party to all its decisions. The Government in its collective wisdom took the decision, and that is it. But at another level, the survival of the Kalyan Singh Government has exposed the hollowness of the BJP's moral posturing. The party, which never tires of talking about probity in public life, has used all kinds of enticements to buy MLAs...
After the vote of confidence you said that the Ministry does not have a majority. It was reported that this was one of the grounds on which you demanded the Government's dismissal. What is your view after the Cabinet's reversal of the decision?
Clearly, the 12 BSP MLAs who have supposedly voted for the Government and the three Congress MLAs who joined the breakaway Congress group after the Speaker accorded recognition to a group of 19, should invite disqualification under the provisions of the anti-defection Act. This will bring down the strength of the ruling side to 205, even admitting that the figure of 222 given by the BJP is correct. The S.P. will bring this to public notice.
Will there be a revival of the S.P.-BSP alliance that broke in 1995?
I think it is too early to say anything on this. For the S.P., the primary objective is to defeat the communal BJP. If anybody is ready to help us in this endeavour we will not refuse that help, notwithstanding the mistakes and misunderstandings of the past.
But joining hands with the BSP will present practical problems.
The S.P. recently led agitations against the misuse of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act under the Mayawati regime.
The Act has been misused in U.P in the recent past. This needs to be corrected. But we have never been anti-Dalit or merely promoted the interests of the upper castes as the BJP has done. As a matter of fact, at the social level, more and more Dalits are moving closer to the S.P. as they fear oppression under the BJP. Dalits, like the minorities and other oppressed classes of society, know that only the S.P. can protect them.