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'One has to identify the greater threat'

Published : Dec 13, 1997 00:00 IST

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From the beginning of the recent crisis at the Centre, the position taken by the Samajwadi Party and its leader Mulayam Singh Yadav has been the subject of much media and public interest. It was reported that the S.P., along with the Tamil Maanila Congress, was ready to sacrifice the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in deference to the wishes of the Congress(I). There was also speculation that the S.P. would leave the United Front and join hands with the Congress(I) in the elections. Mulayam Singh Yadav responded to questions on these issues in this interview with Venkitesh Ramakrishnan. Mulayam Singh said that many things were said about the S.P. during the recent crisis without checking back with the party. Excerpts from the interview:

Right through the crisis at the Centre you were reported to have taken the stand that a compromise should be worked out with the Congress(I). This created an impression that you were not committed to the United Front?

I do not think that one needs to answer this question. The very fact that the S.P. is still with the Front is an answer to these allegations. It is true that I had suggested that one should look for a compromise. That is because the U.F. was created essentially to counter the threat of the communal BJP and, in my opinion, secular forces should not create a situation that would help the communal forces. But that does not mean that I am not committed to the U.F.

When you say compromise, would that not have meant bowing to Congress(I) pressure and forsaking the DMK?

I do not know why the media is getting this all mixed up. The S.P. was very much part of all the resolutions passed by the U.F. asserting that there was no question of dropping the DMK. A compromise can have many forms. It need not mean succumbing to pressure.

What is your personal view on the Jain Commission report?

The U.F. Government has responded to the report in an adequate manner. As a committed constituent of the U.F., my party subscribes to the view of the Front. I would like to add that when it comes to national unity and integrity, nobody can question the integrity of any U.F. constituent.

The positions taken by you seem to have created the impression that you were all set to leave the U.F. and join hands with the Congress(I).

I am ready to campaign against the Congress(I) in States where U.F. constituents are fighting the Congress(I). However, I would like to add that in the fight against communal forces, the Congress(I) cannot be an untouchable. There are certain areas where the Congress(I) is capable of putting up a better fight against the BJP than the constituents of the U.F. Examples are a majority of seats in States like Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. Should we waste secular votes in places like these by putting up our own candidates, candidates who are not in a position to win? Remember that this election is a historic one. It can make or mar the future of this country.

But there are major ideological differences between the U.F. and the Congress(I).

Yes, there are, as there are differences between various constituents of the U.F. as well. But all of us agree that communal forces are the biggest threat to the country.

Talking of ideology, what do you make out of an international socialist like George Fernandes? Is there a bigger apologist for the BJP than Fernades saab? Sometimes when you see his performance in the Lok Sabha one wonders whether he or Advaniji is the leader of the BJP.

In every given context, one has to identify the greater threat.

What about Uttar Pradesh? Will the S.P. associate itself with the Congress(I).

I cannot say anything about Uttar Pradesh now. We have not studied the seat position and the specific situation there. But the S.P. will make any sacrifice to defeat the BJP. We will not haggle for seats. If the Communists or the Janata Dal are in a better position than others to defeat the BJP, we will give seats to them. But I hope they also will adopt a realistic, fair stance.

What about the BSP? Immediately after its break-up with the BJP, there was talk about an alliance and it is being said that Kanshi Ram has already made an informal proposal....

I am not aware of any such proposal.

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated Dec 13, 1997.)

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