"I Have a Problem With Only One Person, Not The Entire Family": Amar Singh
NEW DELHI: The “outsider” in the eye of the Samajwadi First Family storm, Amar Singh says he resides in Chief Mulayam Singh’s heart, and is completely loyal to him. In an interview with journalist Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla given recently at his New Delhi office, Amar Singh is certainly not a favourite with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and ‘Uncle’ MP Ram Gopal Yadav. Echoing Shivpal Yadav, Amar Singh says, “Khata na bahi, Jo netaji kahen wahi sahi” even as he pledges to resign from the Rajya Sabha if so asked by Mulayam Singh.
Q. How many seats are you going to win in UP assembly elections?
A. Every politician claims to be winning an election. The formal answer to your question is that we will form the government in Uttar Pradesh. But I am a person who always speaks his mind, whether formally or informally. Of all other parties, the Samajwadi Party is the best placed. It is also in sync with all political surveys done so far by different electronic TV channels. Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party will stand second and third respectively.
Q. Will BJP sit in the opposition, coming second according to you?
A. I am not saying it. It is the fraternity of yours which has been giving the SP the biggest lead, though they are generally disagreeable to an incumbent. Secondly, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is not facing anti-incumbency. If at all, the anti-incumbency is restricted to the local leaders, their misdeeds. If you ask a voter critical to his local SP leader, he/she will admire Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Thirdly, the SP suffers from no internal contradiction. Whoever thinks so is a big fool.
Q. Is SP a united or a divided house?
A. See, samajwadi party and samajwadi ideology are ajab-gajab ki vichardhara. Dr Lohia felled own government in Kerala in 1973. Samajwadis also felled the government at the centre, formed after stamping out late Indira Gandhi. These samajwadis are all rather moonhphut, far removed from political realism or pragmatism. They each had a loose biting tongue too, fully of acerbity. Some of that property has sneaked into us. I have never been a samajwadi.
I am a Mulyamwadi. But Mulayam Singh Yadav is a samajwadi, isn't he? He has stayed true to the ideals of the party, surviving congressification of many erstwhile samajwadis like ND Tiwary, Janardan Dwiwedi etc. Ironically, I was in Congress, rubbing shoulders with late Madhav Rao Scindia, now President Pranab Mukherjee. Elected as an All India Congress Committee member, I had actively participated in agitations against Jai Prakash Narayan. However, I came into SP not because of any ideology but because of my extremely close friendship with Mulayam Singh Yadav.
MSY holds key to the elections. Flying in a plane high up in the sky, he can tell you the break-up of population of the village below. Sharad Yadav once told me that no one fights an election as hard as MSY. It is not taught either in Oxford or Cambridge. It is experience of working among the people. At the moment, Mulayam Singh has no match in any party (BJP, Congress) in UP. For all kinds of pressures and manipulations, Kuchh baat hai ki hasti mit ti nahi Mulayam Singh ki.
Q. But he has to hold his flock together, hasn't he?
A. Mulayam Singh Yadav leads the struggle from the front. Once he took my car Contessa. When he came back, the car was found riddled with 34 bullets fired from a gun. He had narrowly escaped. Later, he got into the SP fold, Balram Singh Yadav, the very man behind the shooting. The Congress had invested into Balram so that he could counter MSY. Moreover, Balram asked for ticket to contest elections from Mainpuri, Mulayam's traditional pocket borough. I resisted but MSY not only granted his demand but also got him elected from Mainpuri. This is chal, chehra and charitra of MSY. So, Akhilesh, Shivpalji and I don't measure even up to MSY's knee. He is the biggest factor in UP assembly elections. The SP will therefore form the government. I can't say how. But the SP government is definite.
Q. So, you have no reason to worry about Rahul Gandhi's khaat sabha, kisan mahayatra.
A. I respect Sonia Gandhi. Priyanka is dear to me. Rahul Gandhi has several qualities. Congress is a national party. But the time and tide wait for none. Aate hain jab dinon ke pher, Makdi ke jaal mein phanste hain sher. You never know.
At the same time, Congress doesn't make its presence felt on ground, in villages. There is no organisation at local level. The Gandhis showed up courage in Varanasi. Even if people pour down their love and affection, where is the pot in which to collect the votes? Where is the local face to show your supremacy? Where are the likes of even Veer Bahadur Singh, much less the stalwarts like Govind Ballabh Pant, HN Bahuguna?
Q. Prashant Kishore is there and his record leaves little for imagination. Why can't he repeat the Bihar success here?
A. In Bihar, all sorts of allegations were leveled against Lalu. The national leaders avoided sharing space with Lalu at the stages during the elections. But Lalu and Nitish were brought together at behest of Mulayam Singh. It was MSY who made Lalu “drink poison” for sake of Bihar elections and forge unity with Nitish. However, as soon as Nitish and Lalu came together, the former cosied up to Congress, disturbing Mulayam Singh. It is a fact, however one may interpret. MSY is very sensitive towards his aan (pride). Once his pride is hurt, he won't care for the consequences.
Q. Can Sheila Dixit, Congress' CM candidate in UP, make any difference?
A. We, samajwadis, believe in breaking the caste system. But if you consider Sheila Ji as a Brahmin card, think again. She is a Punjabi Khatri. Although married into (Brahmin) Uma Shankar Dixit's family, she is not a Brahmin by birth. If Meira Kumar continues to be a Dalit inspite of marrying into a upper caste family, how can Sheila Dixit be a Brahmin? Her sister is Rama Dhawan. Sheilaji is of course a matured politician. We have a better Brahmin face, though, in Pramod Tiwari.
Q. Dalits seem to be deserting Mayawati. Does she appear more vulnerable now than ever before.
A. Yadavas are not divided. But the dalits have several kinds of sub-castes. Mayawati's sway has never been absolute across the sub-castes. Her hold was restricted to a particular sub-caste of Dalits. She has lost some faces. It is bound to hurt her political prospects. Loss of any face, however small or big, in any political party will hurt. The bigger the face is, the bigger the loss will be. A face takes time to emerge across the state.
Q. What is this fuss over Qaumi Ekta Dal about? (The question had been asked one day before the merger was sealed)
A. Mulayam Singh Yadav will have the last word. I respect Akhilesh's opinion but MSY has vast experience. He is everyone's leader after all. Secondly, Akhilesh is dear to us all. Sometimes, uncle in us prevails on us and we tend to forget that Akhilesh is doubling up as a chief minister. We are all guilty. Sometimes even Mulayam Singh forgets that Akhilesh is not only his son but also a CM. It is not that we are not entitled to our opinions but they should not be made public. Akhilesh doesn't lose his equanimity, though. Recently I spoke something that might have been misinterpreted. Many journalists asked Akhilesh for his reaction but he knows me.
Q. Why did you fall out with the Yadav family? Was it due to an emotional problem?
A. I had a problem only with an individual, not with all. Once Mulayam Singh Yadav said that Amar Singh dwells in his dil (heart) even if he is not in dal (party), there is nothing left to say. If I have to vacate Rajya Sabha seat tomorrow, I wouldn't think twice because I have earned a place in his heart, the biggest compliment of my life. What is left to achieve? Loyalty makes an average person exceptional. My loyalty is with Mulayam Singh, whose word is a Lakshman Rekha. Khata na bahi, jo netaji kahen wahi sahi.