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|October 1, 1999||
'My goal is to bring together Mulayam Singh and Kalyan Singh under a common banner'
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
"BJP harao, Congress bhagao, S M jitao, aur mauj udau," is the current clarion call of the saffron-clad Sachchidanand Sakshi Maharaj, who until yesterday was not only a Bharatiya Janata Party rabble-rouser, but also a confidante of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh.
Kalyan's "fan" he remains but he spews venom against the BJP which denied him renomination from Farrukhabad --- the Lok Sabha seat he won in the last two elections.
In an exclusive interview with rediff.com, the 48-year-old swami, who claims to have taken up sanyas at the age of eight, makes no bones about mixing politics with religion or about his close affinity with Kalyan Singh or about his latest obsession which is lashing out at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He is also, he claims, busy forging a new Other Backward Class alliance by bringing together -- guess who -- none other than arch-foes Kalyan and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
He finds nothing wrong with mixing religion with politics. "What's new about it? Religious gurus have always played a dominant role in politics in India -- whether it was the period of Lord Ram or Dashrath, or Raja Janak or the Gupta dynasty. And mind you, whoever tried to humiliate a religious saint, like it was done with Chanakya, it has led to change of guard at the top," he says.
Referring to himself, he goes on to add, "today, a saint has been insulted, so the most obvious outcome would be the ouster of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime; now I am going to camp in Lucknow to ensure Vajpayee's defeat.''
Asked why he changed colours after the BJP denied him a ticket this time he roars, "who is bothered about a ticket; that is the most petty thing for me; I have got tickets from others." He claims his heart was never with the BJP and that he had been opposing it since 1990.
He goes on to accuse Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal for provoking the firing on karsevaks in November 1990 but gives the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav a clean chit. "The firing was provoked by Singhal because he wanted a few innocent lives to be lost so that the Ayodhya temple movement could get a boost," he points out.
Flatly denying his active involvement in the Babri Masjid demolition, he claims, "only Kalyan Singh and I am aware of the reality; I was against the demolition; and Kalyan's role too could be assessed from the fact that he was the most crestfallen man after December 2, 1992 ; he did not meet anyone for seven days after the unfortunate happening."
According to him, the Udupi Shankaracharya, who also happened to be Narasimha Rao's guru, was camping in Ayodhya at the time of the demolition. "That speaks volumes on the role of the Congress," he says. And he goes on to point out that it was during the Congress regime that the idols of Lord Ram were installed inside the mosque; and even when the idol was re-installed after the demolition, there was total control of the Congress over the entire site as UP had been put under central rule and the place was physically under the control of the central police forces.
But isn't he sounding very much like his new found friend and political ally Mulayam Singh? He shoots back, "so what, I am openly campaigning for him; it is Mulayam's helicopter that is taking me to different constituencies; I am using his party's cars to move around."
He, however, denies that Mulayam has been avoiding appearing with him on the same dais lest it further erode his already depleted Muslim support base.
Asked to explain the reasons for the denial of a BJP ticket, he says, "I think it was a conspiracy hatched jointly by the BJP, VHP and the Sangh Parivar. The first reason was that I broke all barriers to lobby for Kalyan Singh; I told Vajpayee that if you do not let Kalyan remain chief minister then I will not let you continue as prime minister; I also warned that any attempt to touch Kalyan Singh would spell doom for the BJP."
He agrees that it should not have happened considering how close he was to Kalyan Singh. "But then, the fact remains that even he has never been really acceptable to the feudal and casteist Sangh Parivar, which is dominated by upper caste leaders and capitalists. There has never been any scope in the BJP for a backward or a Dalit; they have been tolerating him only due to unavoidable reasons. But now they have started humiliating him." And he goes on to narrate how at an election rally of Vajpayee, Kalyan was denied a chance to speak while UP minister Lalji Tandon addressed the gathering.
"What else is it if not humiliation?" he asks, and continues, "Vajpayee can go attend tea parties at Tandon's place and not at Kalyan's; if Kalyan appoints Kusum Rai for a particular post, it is unacceptable to everyone --- what does it mean? Then a ticket is denied to Sakshi Maharaj, who, everybody knows, is Kalyan Singh's dil ka tukra. What is all this?"
Yet, on second thought he believes the denial of a ticket was a kind of blessing in disguise for him. "In fact, if I really wanted the party nomination, all that Kalyan Singh was required to do was to bluntly tell the BJP leadership that what was the point of his sticking in the party if he could not even get some of his close ones a party ticket; but I told Kalyan not to do so, because I wanted to get this opportunity to expose the BJP," he points out.
Asked about his plans for the future, he declares, "my goal is to bring together Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kalyan Singh under a common backward class banner; I wish to forge a re-alignment of backward forces and change the course of the country's politics and undo the damage caused by the likes of Sharad Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav to the cause of the OBCs."
He, however, does not foresee an exit by Kalyan Singh himself. "I do not think Kalyan will leave the party on his own; you see he is a disciplined lion, but in case the party ties to precipitate things against him after the election, the BJP will have to pay for it," he warns.
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