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The Rediff Election Interview/Mulayam Singh Yadav
May 05, 2004
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav is confident the Third Front will form the next government -- not the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA nor the alliance led by the Congress. This assertion has thrown the country into a tizzy. The BJP and Congress, quite predictably, deny the possibility. The stockmarkets have taken a tumble. Smaller players like the Nationalist Congress Party are fancying their chances on the national stage. That is Mulayam Singh power for you.
The 64-year-old Uttar Pradesh chief minister is once again a contender for the prime minister's office. He does not spell out his ambition in so many words. But listen to what he said after casting his vote on Wednesday: "The next prime minister will be from Uttar Pradesh." Of course, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi too are contesting the Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh.
A lot, however, will depend on the numbers of seats the Samajwadi Party wins in Uttar Pradesh. Yadav claims he will have between 50 and 60 MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha. He has already moved base to New Delhi, where he proposes to spend the next few days. No prizes for guessing how he will spend his time.
He spoke to rediff.com Contributing Special Correspondent Sharat Pradhan on his way to Lucknow airport to take the flight to Delhi. An exclusive interview:
What political scenario do you foresee building at the end of this election?
I clearly see the formation of a Third Front government.
In that case, will you be a contender for the prime minister's post?
I have never aspired for positions so I do not intend being a contender for the prime minister's chair.
Who do you think could be suitable for the job?
Any decision on that will come after May 13 when the results are out. We will sit across the table and I can assure you that we will not take time to decide our prime minister.
You say you turned down the offer once; will you refuse again if the offer is made to you this time?
That decision will be taken only after May 13 when we propose to hold our parliamentary board meeting. That would be followed by interaction with other Third Front members.
How many seats do you expect to win?
All I can say is we will get enough seats to ensure that no government is formed in New Delhi without the support of the Samajwadi Party.
Do you mean to say that even the BJP and its allies would not be able to form a government without your support?
No. No. As far as they are concerned, their return to power is just ruled out. We are here to see that communal forces like the BJP are kept at bay.
What about the Congress? Will you align with them in a post-poll build-up?
No. The Congress has been calling us communal. Besides, they have been hobnobbing with the Bahujan Samaj Party, whose nexus with the BJP is an open secret. It was the Congress which ditched us and toppled Third Front governments.
Haven't some leaders accused you of striking a secret deal with the BJP and that you would join the NDA in a post-poll scenario?
That is absolute nonsense. Mulayam has never deviated from his secular path. Such canard is being systematically spread by both the BJP and Congress and I am aware of that.
There is a feeling that Muslims, who were willing to swear by your name, are drifting away from your party, simply because they too have begun to believe that you have some underhand deal with the BJP?
This was again a part of the misinformation campaign launched against me. Even Prime Minister Vajpayee has joined this dirty politicking. Let me tell you, Muslims know fully well that the Samajwadi Party alone is a true secular party. Therefore, they are very much with us as they were in the past. The poll results will remove all these myths very soon.
Image: Rahil Shaikh