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September 24, 1999


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The Rediff Election Interview/ Mulayam Singh Yadav

'I don't give a damn for the exit polls'

Leader of the Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav accuses the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress of joining hands to defeat his party in the elections to ensure there would be only two parties in the fray the next time.

Yadav, who is contesting from two parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, also is very upset with pollsters and the media, claiming they were hatching a conspiracy against his party.

"The media has been playing a dirty role in this particular election. I will go to the Supreme Court and tell them that the Election Commission was fully justified in imposing a ban on printing and publication of so-called exit polls conducted by half-baked pollsters in this country," Mulayam said angrily when asked his views on the latest exit poll results.

Mulayam Singh Yadav has been on a whirlwind tour of some prominent parliamentary constituencies where his candidates have either been trailing behind those of the BJP and the Congress or where they have a slender lead.

In a chat with Onkar Singh Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed the election results would prove that his party is very much in the running.

The latest exit poll results say that your party is doing badly in the polls in Uttar Pradesh?

I don't give a damn for the so-called exit polls. These are half-baked exit polls, conducted by some individuals with vested interests with an eye on currying favour with either the BJP or the Congress.

What are the qualifications of these pollsters anyway? They are more like chabbriwala who sell their products from door to door. Mulayam Singh Yadav does not believe in any exit poll results.

We are not doing badly in UP. The election results will be an eye-opener to the media, which is playing dirty tricks and is hand-in-glove with the BJP and the Congress to eliminate the Samajvadi Party.

Their sole aim is to ensure that by the time the next elections are held in India only the Congress and the BJP remain in the fray and rest of the parties bow out of contention.

Do you think that the Election Commission was right in imposing a ban on the exit polls?

Of course, the Election Commission was right in imposing a ban. We will move the Supreme Court and tell them that the EC was right and justified in imposing ban on such rubbish because nobody knows how these poll surveys are done.

Just anyone and everyone seems to be conducting poll surveys. Such half-baked surveys do influence voters.

Are your candidates losing in other constituencies?

When the poll results are announced you will be surprised. You can write it down or tape it: My candidates are winning in a majority of the constituencies. The contest is between the communal BJP and the Samajvadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

But the Congress claims that Muslims are annoyed with you because you, as their maulana, had betrayed them and not allowed the formation of a secular government after the fall of the BJP government in April?

This is not true. The Muslims cannot be annoyed with Mulayam Singh Yadav because I cannot think of betraying their cause. Mulayam is their maulana and he will continue to remain so in future as well. I am a self-respecting Indian citizen and I did not allow a foreigner to become the prime minister of the country.

I had proposed the name of Jyoti Basu but the Congress did not agree. Instead, they wanted to install Sonia Gandhi as the prime minister of India.

Mulayam Singh Yadav did not agree to this proposal. If at all any party should be blamed for forcing elections on the country, it is the Congress, not the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Surjeet has been talking about the possibility of the third front forming the new government. Do you agree with his assessment?

I think he is working in the right direction. In the last couple of weeks there have been some developments and there is a strong possibility of the third front led by Jyoti Basu forming the new government.

Is it true that you are contesting from two seats, Sambhal and Kannauj because you were not sure whether the people of Sambhal would vote for you?

The man who can defeat Mulayam Singh Yadav is not born as yet. I am going to win both the seats -- from Sambhal and Kannauj. I have full faith in the people of both the constituencies and they are going to vote for me.

You are bitter about the media. Why?

Take a look at the kind of reports in the papers and on television. Till the eighteenth of this month the Congress had not done well in UP and still the media said that SP is on its way out.

I am telling you time and again that SP is going to win a larger number of seats than last time.

What is your aim?

My aim is to inflict a humiliating defeat both on the Congress and the BJP. I want to limit the seats of the BJP to merely 20 from Uttar Pradesh in the thirteenth Lok Sabha so that the party can forget about forming a new government at the Centre. I would like to see the back of the communal party called the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Which is the lesser evil?

To me both the Congress and the BJP are two sides of the same coin. When Kalpnath Rai voted for the Vajapayee government, the Congress labelled him communal. But when he crossed over to the Congress, he became secular overnight. So there is not much to choose between the two. The two parties are competing with each other in spreading rumours about the Samajwadi Party.

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