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The Rediff Election Interview/Rashid Alvi
March 04, 2004
Hailing from Chandpur, Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, Rashid Alvi first came into the limelight when he was appointed all India general secretary of the Yuva Janata Dal.
In 1999, he was elected a Bahujan Samajwadi Party member of Parliament from Amroha in UP by defeating former Test cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Chetan Chauhan by over 90,000 votes.
A Supreme Court advocate, Alvi was regarded a confidant of BSP leader Mayawati after he was appointed the party's leader in the Lok Sabha. He stood by her when the Central Bureau of Investigation conducted raids at her homes in connection with the Taj Corridor case.
Mayawati expelled Rashid Alvi from the BSP this week after he claimed that she was playing the BJP's game in UP at a press conference.
In an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh at his 31, Canning Lane home in New Delhi, Alvi predicted that Mayawati's BSP would not get more then seven seats in the forthcoming general election.
Why does Mayawati get so angry that she expelled you from the party?
She would be the best person to answer this question. Her style of functioning has not been good right from the beginning. At one stage I felt she had improved and was correcting herself. She did not take money to distribute tickets during the elections in the four states. It was then that I felt she is now gearing up for good politics.
When I look back now, I feel that maybe she was petrified by the CBI raids. Now that the BJP government has made things comfortable for her in the Taj Corridor case, she is back to her normal self, making unpredictable moves. She is doing what the BJP is telling her to do.
She had been saying that she does not need a stable government but one that she could mould and bend. Isn't she playing the politics of blackmail?
I would not say she is playing the politics of blackmail. Frankly, she does not even know what she is saying and doing. She does not know what she wants. When she will say something nobody knows. In the morning she has one opinion, which changes in the afternoon and is totally different in the evening.
It is unfortunate that she is misusing the Dalit vote bank who follows her blindly.
Has the absence of BSP supremo Kanshi Ram made any difference?
When Kanshi Ram was around he could control her to some extent. It is sad that she is using Dalit power for her personal ends.
If the same power was in the hands of a sensible Dalit leader s/he would have become one of the most powerful persons in Indian politics.
History will be witness to the fact that Mayawati used Dalit power for personal gain, and not for the benefit of the Dalit society.
Is it true that you stood by her when she was being raided by the CBI?
Of course, this is true. Right through her bad times I stood behind her like a rock.
If Allah punishes me for anything it would not be that I did something bad but because I supported her wrongdoings.
The Dalit society did not even give Dr Ambedkar this kind of support she is getting today.
When the CBI was after her even her relatives and friends deserted her.
Has she made a lot of money?
I would not say that. I have worked with her and still respect her. I have no personal battle against her that I should indulge in mudslinging of this nature. I would not say whether she made money or not.
But I can say that she has not risen up to the expectations of Dalit society.
But she asks who is Rashid Alvi?
What can I say? The person who can answer this question is Mayawati herself. You can very well imagine to what level she can stoop in order to humiliate a person. People know who Rashid Alvi is. I am not angry with her on this count because I know her habits.
When she is in power then she is the most powerful person. When she is out of power, nobody can match her in cowardice.
She says you did not use Rs 4 crore from your MP fund for the development of your area. Is that true?
Nothing can be farther from truth. I have spent Rs 9 crore out of the Rs 10 crore allotted to an MP during the last five years. I had plans to use the rest of the money but those plans could not be implemented because of the CBI raids on her offices and homes. She did not allow me to move out of Delhi for two months.
Even if we assume that what she is saying is true then the offence is not so serious as to throw me out of the party.
What is Mayawati looking for in this election? Will she be able to hold the balance?
It is wrong to assume that she is not shaking hands with any political party. She has a tie-up with the BJP. I used to tell her that we should go with the Congress party. I can tell you with full confidence that after the polls she will go back to the BJP despite her three earlier experiences.
By going it alone in the polls she will harm her party.
If she goes with the Congress she could get 50 seats. If she goes alone she will get merely five to seven seats.
By going it alone she will directly or indirectly be helping the BJP -- something that the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership expects from her. She says the BSP should be the balancing force. Which clearly indicates that whichever party is in a position to form the government she will go with that party which includes the BJP.
She told the party rally in Patna that they should keep the Congress away from power which again shows that Mayawati is helping the BJP.
All these things indicate that she is colluding with the BJP.
Why then did she meet Sonia Gandhi?
She met Sonia Gandhi under her grand plan for deception. She wants to give Soniaji the impression that the BSP will go with the Congress if the Congress withdraws its support to the Mulayam Singh government.
If the Congress falls into her trap then Uttar Pradesh will have President's rule which again would help the BJP. Once that is done she will tell Sonia Gandhi that the BSP will not go to the polls as a partner of the Congress party.
Are you saying the BSP's decline has begun because of Mayawati's policies?
Undoubtedly, the decline of the BSP has begun. What she has done to me has left people wondering that if she could do this to me then she could do it to anybody. No member of Parliament or party MLA is happy with her because of her style of functioning.
By going it alone she is harming the BSP. And if the BSP decline continues then the Dalits of India will not forgive Mayawati for what she has done to them.
Image: Uday Kuckian