We won’t rock Congress: Amar SinghMar 31st, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Interviews
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has come a long way since he became an unwanted guest at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence after the election in 2004. He was instrumental in bailing out the UPA government in Parliament last year, after the Left parties withdrew support. By abandoning the Left and embracing the Congress, Mr. Singh has shown that there are indeed no permanent friends or foes in politics. He spoke to GARGI PARSAI about the 2009 elections.
In the last elections you did well, despite being isolated. What does it look like this time round?
Last time, the responsibility of pulling us into the mainstream was with the Left parties. You will be surprised to know that just to placate CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Surjeet — who was peeved at our stand of not supporting Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister — our parliamentary board decided to abide by whatever he said. That’s why when he asked, I accompanied him to 10 Janpath [Ms. Gandhi’s residence]. The rest, as they say, is history. I expected the Left parties to stand up for us. But that did not happen.
The most formidable Third Front experiment was started by us in the form of the United National Progressive Alliance — a name given by AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, for whom I have great admiration. I have found her to be very straight. She questioned the double role of the Left parties which, she said, were running the Congress-led Central government. She said they were also responsible for the formation of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu on the one hand, and had a proxy presence in the UNPA in the form of the SP, on the other. We sacrificed our relationship with Jayalalithaaji [then] for the sake of the Left. Today, the irony is that the Left parties and Jayalalithaaji are together [in the Third Front] and we are out. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat cannot hold a normal conversation with me because I am in the company of the Congress.
Your party’s support to Kalyan Singh has caused heartburn among the Muslim community and in your own party.
Kalyan Singhji is not contesting the election on a SP ticket. He is going to become a great fertiliser for the eradication of BJP politics. Minus Kalyan Singh there is no BJP in Uttar Pradesh. With Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi in Uttar Pradesh, the State has become the biggest laboratory for Hindutva. If the biggest propagator is going to discard the policy to join the politics of Mulayam Singh, it should be appreciated.
Is the UPA disintegrating with the failure of the Congress to strike pre-poll alliances in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh?
I don’t think so, because neither Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan or Mulayam Singh has questioned the prime ministerial claim of Manmohan Singh. Not even Sharad Pawar. They are unhappy with the big-brotherly attitude of the Congress.
In our case, we are particularly unhappy with the interlocutors of the Congress. Despite her sincerity and commitment, Ms. Gandhi could not overrule the will and decision of her managers for working out a pre-poll alliance.
Is Mr. Mulayam Singh’s coming together with Mr. Lalu Prasad and Mr. Paswan a long-term strategy?
This will be a lethal and formidable combination in the two States with 120 seats. As far as we are concerned it is long-term. We are not talking about leadership issue or government-formation right now. But one thing is for sure — Laluji-Mulayamji and Paswanji have decided not to rock the boat of the Congress led by Sonia Gandhi.
What about the longevity of the Left-led Third Front?
I have my own doubts, because barring the Left parties, everybody in the Third Front has a dubious record as far as secularism is concerned. The only consistent secular parties are the Left parties, the SP and the Congress. Ironically, they are headed in different directions.
Who will the SP align with after the elections?
I don’t see any other party other than the Congress because Prakash Karatji, by aligning with [the Bahujan Samaj Party’s] Mayawati, has closed the door on us. Also, the relationship between the Congress and the Communist parties is very bad and has become worse because of the coalition between the Trinamool Congress and the Congress in West Bengal.
Under the circumstances, we don’t have any option but to be with the Congress.
What are the issues in this election?
The misrule of the Mayawati government, criminalisation of politics, corruption and the money-collection spree of the BSP. This is a big moral question and it’ll be difficult for the Left to justify it.
Because Mayawati is in power, the negativity created by her opponents will benefit only the SP as politics in U.P. has become bipolar.