'People's Front will win on its own'

Print edition : December 08, 2001
Interview with Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Ever since Samajwadi Party (S.P.) president Mulayam Singh Yadav broke bread with Congress(I) chief Sonia Gandhi at Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Somnath Chatterjee's residence on November 26, political circles have speculated about an electoral alliance between the S.P. and the Congress(I) in the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. Mulayam Singh Yadav had refused to support Sonia's candidature for prime ministership in 1999 and consistently declined to meet her since, even at the customary Opposition parties' meeting on the eve of each Parliament session. So, the meeting was significant. However, Mulayam Singh Yadav, in an interview to Purnima S. Tripathi, dismissed suggestion of any larger political meaning to it, saying that it was meant "merely for floor coordination" in Parliament. He said that the People's Front would win enough seats on its own to form the next government in U.P. Excerpts from the interview:

R.V. MOORTHY

This was your first meeting with Sonia Gandhi after you prevented her from becoming Prime Minister in 1999. You had boycotted Opposition parties' meeting convened by her since then on the eve of Parliament sessions. Does this meeting mean a change of heart on your part towards the Congress(I), coming as it does in the run-up to the Assembly elections in U.P?

There is no change of heart. My stand on the Congress(I) remains the same, that it is just the same as the BJP. There is no difference between the two. But refusing the dinner invitation of Somnath Chatterjee would have been discourteous on my part, so I went. You should not attach political motives to everything we do.

Is an understanding with the Congress(I) possible at the time of the elections in U.P. in order to defeat the BJP?

There is no question of any understanding with the Congress(I), either directly or indirectly, for the elections. My stand on the Congress(I) remains the same. So where is the question of joining hands with it to defeat the BJP? Besides, the Congress(I) is in no position to help in any way in U.P. The People's Front is strong here and is slated to win enough seats on its own to form the next government. We will not need any help.

It is a fact that I had a pleasant interaction with Sonia Gandhi, but this only has a limited implication, for the functioning within Parliament. Opposition unity in Parliament is required to corner the government. It is true that at times we have failed to nail the government because of lack of understanding among us. In order to prevent that, it is important for the Opposition parties to arrive at a broad understanding for floor coordination. The meeting achieved just as much, nothing more, nothing less.

What makes you feel so confident that the People's Front will form the next government in U.P. on its own?

The BJP's misrule. It has proved to be the most inefficient and corrupt government till date. Is it a secret that there are criminals in the Cabinet? It is mafia raj in U.P. The BJP has been exposed. People have seen through their game and will teach them a lesson.

But the Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress(I) too are in the fray?

(Laughs, without answering.)

But Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has taken measures such as reservation within reservation for the most backward castes and jobs to unemployed youth that can attract voters.

The announcements are only an eyewash. The government is taking the people for a ride. What impact will the announcement of reservation within reservation have when the number of people who could possibly benefit from it is minuscule? Besides, the number of people who are angered by this decision is large. This will go against the BJP. The same is the case with the employment gimmick. Where are the jobs? People will see through the sham and rubbish the BJP. By making false promises the BJP has created a crisis of credibility for politicians like us who believe in doing what we say.

You have complained to the Election Commission about irregularities in the voters' list in Ayodhya. The E.C. had earlier criticised the State government for tampering with the voters' list in Thakurdwara.

They are resorting to all sorts of dirty tricks to deny our supporters the right to vote. The names of Muslim voters are being deleted from the voters' list and those of Hindus are being added. Our supporters have not been issued voters' identity cards, which will deprive them of their right to vote. Only 15 to 20 per cent of the electorate has been issued I.D. cards so far, that too mainly BJP supporters. The government is misleading the Election Commission by saying that 60 per cent of the I.D. cards have been issued. The way the government is tampering with the process of holding elections amounts to murder of democracy.

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