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Home > News > Interview

The Rediff Interview/

'Mulayam has taken people of UP for a ride'

April 25, 2007

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In a massive ground hours before Congress president Sonia Gandhi is to address a thousand-strong crowd in Rae Bareli, Congress legislator from Mumbai Kripashankar Singh walks around the maidan, making sure the arrangements are up to scratch.

In town as a result of spending assembly election time in his native Jaunpur nearby, Singh spoke to Raja Sen about why Mulayam Singh Yadav will taste defeat and how the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli should trust the Congress.

Some excerpts from the interview:

Constituencies of Amethi and Rae Bareli are eclipsed by the Gandhi family. Even the candidates standing for their seats are not given prominence, or believed to be doing much, except hang to either Rahul or Priyanka's coat-tails...

See, the thing is that Soniaji is the head of the family. The party is one family, and five generations of the Gandhi family have ruled over it now. So, let there be no debate as to who is the head of this family. And there can not be more than one head, more than one maalik. So the local leaders support the family, and the family supports them.

And what brings you to a place like this?

We come of our own accord. I was in Jaunpur and in Lucknow for the assembly elections, but since Soniaji was coming here, I decided to come down and take a look. She does not need to ask leaders to come and attend her rallies; they arrive on their own, just as a mark of support. Support for her and our visions, views and ideologies.

It is all up to one's own dedication, one's own aastha. When you go to Jammu, why do you go to Vaishno Devi? This is a pilgrimage of sorts when we see a leader we believe, and our coming here is an act of sacrifice, an ahuti given in a maha yagna.

Rahul Gandhi is said to be working hard in the interiors of the state. Do you see him forging a future in UP?

Definitely. His mantra is development. Everything is about vikas. The rail compartment manufacturing unit to be set up here will provide employment to about 40,000 people. They are planning to ensure 24 hour electricity in the area, which will mean corporations and companies will love to come here. There is a NIFT opening in the area, and that is a part of great pride.

Honestly, (smiles) sometimes I feel jealous at why the Gandhis look favourably here (Amethi and Rae Bareli) instead of my area, like Jaunpur. They have brought in crores of rupees to develop the area, and they encourage other parliamentarians to do the same for their areas. But very few have their kind of commitment.

So do the Gandhis come and campaign for you, the way you visit their constituencies without any external interests?

Well, everybody wants to see the Gandhis. The public is always asking for them. They keep saying 'Rahul ko lao, Priyanka ko lao (bring Rahul, bring Priyanka).' So I spoke to Priyanka and told her that she should not just campaign for these two areas, but help us out as well; that her support would mean a lot to the people. She laughed it off and changed the subject. Anyway, we would love to have them supporting us.

Why do you think, in a state that is a hotbed of communalism and casteism, the Gandhi family captures the imaginations of Amethi and Rai Bareli?

They are above it all. This family is above it all. You are right! UP is in a terrible situation because of casteism -- it is the biggest poison, and it is unfortunately what politics in this state is currently based on.

But there is no question of jaat (caste) when the Gandhis are concerned. Nobody asks what community Rahulji belongs to, what caste Soniaji is. They look at Rahul as their man, their leader. Humaare Rahulji aa gaye! (Our Rahul has come!) The Gandhis are beyond caste. They have always sacrificed themselves for the nation, and it is our privilege to follow them.

And the people here trust this family. Sure, there is casteism here too. But the people here understand that the CongressĀ is not trying to exploit the voter on the basis of their caste, their religion. It wants development.

So what does Rahul Gandhi have planned for the UP?

He's a very forward thinker, and is looking far beyond just the Saturday elections, crucial as they are. He has two basic objectives on his agenda: the first is to oust the current government from its seat of power, and the second is to concentrate entirely on development, with a long-term perspective. It's all vikas, vikas, vikas for him.

What about the current leader? Do you really think the people of UP will reject Mulayam Singh Yadav?

You know, there are ads in the papers and hoardings campaigning for him that say Mulayam meri marham hai (Mulayam is my ointment), but should not they now be saying Mulayam mera Mohinder hai, Mulayam mera Nithari hai? (Mulayam is my Mohinder, my Nithari). People are not fools. He has taken the people of UP for a ride, and given them nothing but pain. Now they are bound to reject him.

And then there is Rajnath Singh, who has declared that he will build a Ram mandir, but seems to have no clue about the date. And who has given him this responsibility? He swears on Lord Ram, as if God came in a dream and asked him to go make a temple. And what gives him the right to swear on the Lord anyway? Why doesn't he swear on one of his corrupt party leaders?

There is indeed speculation that Mulayam Singh's party is on the defensive now.

Entirely! Recently, Yadav met with former chief ministers Jayalalitha (TN), Chandrababu Naidu (AP), Om Prakash Chautala (Haryana) and Brindavan Goswami (Assam) to try and forge an alliance to stay in power. So Mulayam effectively becomes the fifth former chief minister to join the party, as you will soon see. This is desperation at its worst.

So you think he will be ousted from the UP?

Surely! This is the first part of Rahulji's agenda, and this samkalp (pledge) he has fulfilled!

And what chances do you see for the Congress at the polls overall?

Well, I am no jyotishi (Astrologer) to talk about the numbers of seats, but I can say this plain and simple: the Congress will form the government, and that's for sure. Congress ke bina sarkar nahin banegi (Without the Congress, a government won't be made).

The Rediff Interviews