Interview with Mulayam Singh Yadav.
MULAYAM Singh Yadav's wrestling skills are often recalled by Samajwadi Party (S.P.) activists when he and the party face political crises. "Like all good wrestlers, netaji gets into high-energy mode when facing pointed challenges. There is a special verve around him in such situations as he takes on adversaries and puts them on the defensive," goes the refrain. When the Mulayam Singh-led Uttar Pradesh government faced the threat of dismissal in February, the party throbbed with these same notes. Frontline caught up with Mulayam Singh after a day filled with dramatic action, which saw the S.P. withdraw support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre and the Election Commission announce the schedule for the Assembly elections in the State. Excerpts from an interview:
With the announcement of the elections, the dismissal threat faced by your government has receded. What is your assessment of the situation?
The State government has been requesting the Election Commission for long to announce the poll schedule. I am happy that the E.C. has completed its work and finalised the dates. As for the toppling game that the S.P. government is facing, it is not a new phenomenon. The `Rani' [Sonia Gandhi] of Delhi and her party, the Congress, have never been pleased with the S.P.'s plebeian origins and the attempts of its government to make a mark for itself. This displeasure has manifested in the form of diverse manoeuvres to bring down our government. It started right from the early days of the government, but with impending elections these manoeuvres have become more frantic. If you are a student of political history you must know that such undemocratic practices are nothing new to the Congress. Starting with the 1959 dismissal of the first elected Communist government in Kerala during the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru to the imposition of the Emergency in 1975 by Indira Gandhi, the Congress' track record is there for all to see. The machinations against our government have only shown that the Congress cannot change its spots. I do not think the games will stop just because of the announcement of polls. Our government and the party machinery are fully prepared to face any new stratagem that the Congress, the Central government and its agents devise.
What would these preparations entail? If the government is dismissed, it would be a fait accompli. Even the route of legal recourse may not help you because elections would be over by the time the process is initiated.
When I say we are fully prepared to face the stratagems it does not mean just holding on to the State Ministry or making appeals to the judiciary against the undemocratic actions of the Congress and the Central government. Our preparation is basically about rallying people against autocracy. This battle will now be decided in the people's court. I am certain that the people of Uttar Pradesh will give a resounding verdict against those who joined the toppling game against us. The Congress has always been wary of the people's verdict and that is why it wanted to come to power in Uttar Pradesh through the back door. But what I find most surprising is the way some of my old comrades in the anti-fascist struggle of the 1970s and the 1990s, such as M. Karunanidhi and Sharad Pawar, have joined hands with the very embodiment of autocracy. I can understand the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and the Congress getting together; they are actually two sides of the same fascist coin. But the other parties and their leaders have a different history and character. I would only like to tell them to be careful while taking this course. They are forsaking their basic democratic credentials.
Their argument is that your government was formed in an unconstitutional manner and that the Supreme Court verdict disqualifying 13 MLAs who defected from the Bahujan Samaj Party proves it.
We have responded to this argument many times. The verdict disqualifying the 13 MLAs makes no reference to the constitutionality or lack of it of my government. It simply disqualifies these MLAs. In any case, our government has a majority in spite of this disqualification. Also, no constitutional institution, be it the judiciary or the E.C. or the President, has questioned the constitutional validity of my government. Only the axis of opportunists formed by the Congress, the BJP and the BSP is raising this nonsensical point.
There is a view that although the BJP is demanding your government's dismissal, it has a secret understanding with the S.P.
This is all part of a motivated campaign against us. If there is one party, apart from the Left parties, that has never compromised with the Hindutva forces, it is the S.P. Remember, it was S.P. workers who fought in the 1990s in the villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh to stop the marauding Hindutva gangs. Where were these people, who accuse us now of colluding with the BJP, during those turbulent times?
Your government is reported to have facilitated and given financial assistance to the Vishwa Hindu Sammelan organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
When you are in government there are many facilitations that you have to do, whether you agree with it politically or not. Many celebrities were attending the Sammelan and the government was duty-bound to provide transport and security. If you want a parallel, Kerala's Left Democratic Front was compelled to facilitate a VHP meet attended by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi recently. I don't think any of you will accuse the LDF leaders of adopting Modi's political philosophy.