'All this is done by the Congress'

Print edition : February 10, 2006

SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

Interview with Mulayam Singh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.

"I cannot even offer you a cup of tea today as everything in this house, including the kitchen, is shut," was how Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav began the conversation with Venkitesh Ramakrishnan on January 18 in New Delhi. He was sitting on the lawns of 2, Krishna Menon Marg, the house he had vacated that very day on the directions of the Central government. It was evident, as the interview progressed, that the Chief Minister perceived the "eviction" from his Delhi residence as yet another manifestation of the "grudge politics" played on him and the Samajwadi Party (S.P.) by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Excerpts from the interview:

The tussles between the Congress and the S.P. seem to have risen to an all-time high intensity recently.

The Congress has been systematically attacking the S.P. and its leaders for a long period. After the formation of the UPA government at the Centre this has progressively increased. What started with the insult heaped on our general secretary Amar Singh when he went to offer support to the UPA, along with the revered Communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, has now acquired dimensions like tapping of telephones and eviction from residential premises. All this is being done because the Congress is not able to take away our mass base and support in Uttar Pradesh, despite allout attempts.

The Congress leadership has characterised all these as mere allegations. According to them, Amar Singh's phones were tapped by those who wanted to blackmail him for money.

The story built up by the Delhi Police on Amar Singh's telephone tapping case is indeed ludicrous. They want us to believe that a handful of private detectives would suddenly join together to launch a sting operation on as senior a leader as Amar Singh. We had no belief in this investigation right from the beginning. The manner in which Congress compromises investigative agencies is clear from the manner it has used the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Ottavio Quattrocchi affair... . That is why I asked for an inquiry by non-Congress Chief Ministers headed by the respected West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. But that was not accepted. We have no doubt that the phone tapping was engineered by Congress leaders and that it was part of a political conspiracy.

But how can you brand the notice asking you to vacate the residential premises in Delhi as part of a conspiracy. Legally, you had no right to occupy this house after you ceased to be a member of the Lok Sabha.

You journalists should have found out why I have been singled out for action. As many as 22 other politicians, including three Congress general secretaries and Rajnath Singh, the president of the BJP, have been served with the same eviction notice that was served on me. More than 30 political leaders, including veteran Congress leader A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhary, are occupying bungalows beyond their entitlement. But among all these 50-odd people, only I was threatened with forcible eviction. And that too when I have been paying a monthly commercial rent of over Rs.150,000 from our party funds. Why don't you find out how many of the other 50 politicians are paying proper rent for the premises they occupy? In fact, I had suggested to the government that the house could be re-allotted to senior S.P. leader Ram Gopal Yadav. Even that was not allowed.

So, this "eviction" will also form part of the S.P. campaign against the Congress?

See, I am a person who came from the street. I can always give up all these facilities and go back to the street and its common people, unlike landlords who have lived in palatial houses like Anand Bhavan for generations. So, we do not have to campaign on an issue like this. But we shall certainly highlight the injustice meted out to us.

Don't you think that all these small and personalised tussles are devaluing secular politics as a whole and pushing secular forces away from the country's and people's larger concerns...

I certainly agree. But why don't you try saying this to the so-called largest secular party in the country.

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