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February 21, 1998


The Rediff Election Interview/ Jagdambika Pal

'Kalyan Singh has been doing no work for the state'

The Uttar Pradesh government showed all the integrated stability of a pack of cards. And it stood upright till a jack sought to go to the top of the heap. That approximates the attitude of Jagdambika Pal of the Loktantrik Congress and now the state's next chief minister.

The Loktantrik Congress itself had broken away from the Congress in October to back the Bharatiya Janata Party government. In a telephone interview with Syed Firdaus Ashraf, soon after he staked his claim to form a government, Pal claims there is widespread dissatisfaction against the BJP, and that he has the backing of nearly 240 MLAs in the 425-seat assembly in his bid for power.

Why did you withdraw support to the Kalyan Singh government?

We split the Congress to support the BJP government because we thought that BJP would bring good governance to Uttar Pradesh. More importantly, Kalyan Singh had told us he would not spread communal hatred in the state. But after Kalyan Singh got a majority, he did exactly the opposite. He has been openly promising a Ram mandir and has been doing no work for the state.

Was the Ram temple the only issue for withdrawal of support?

No, but the Ram temple was one of the main issues. Besides that, Kalyan Singh hadn't set up a single industry in the last four months. We cannot have a government that provides no opportunities for jobs to our youths. Kalyan Singh also did not do anything to promote the interests of farmers in the state. So we withdrew support.

Do you think you will be able to prove your majority with only 22 MLAs?

Yes, surely. I have the signatures of more than 240 MLAs who are supporting me for the post of chief minister.

So when are you taking the oath?

We are waiting for the governor's decision. It is for the first time in Uttar Pradesh politics that all the secular leaders, including Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh, have supported me.

You mean to say that Mayawati and Mulayam, who are bitter enemies, have settled their differences for your sake?

Yes, they have. Both leaders met me personally and assured me that they would work to form a secular government in UP.

Which other parties will be part of your ministry, since your party itself consists of only 22 MLAs out of the 425 MLAs in UP?

It is too early to say. I will be able to sort that out in a day or two after I become chief minister.

You betrayed the Congress four months ago to form the Loktantrik Congress and backed Kalyan Singh. Today you have withdrawn support to the Kalyan Singh government. How long can this betrayal politics go on in UP?

Firstly, let me clear that point: We never betrayed the Congress. We thought that the BJP would provide good governance to the state, so we supported them. In fact, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tewari had a good rapport with me even after I joined the BJP government. I can show his signature too, to show that he too is supporting me today in my claim for chief ministership. I have the support of all the Congress legislators. Secondly, coalition politics has become a reality in India and you will see that only a secular coalition government can rule our country.

There are rumours that your party is on the verge of a split and not all your MLAs are willing to withdraw support to Kalyan Singh?

No, this is not true. Our decision to withdraw support has been taken jointly, and all my party members are with me.

How will it affect the BJP's prospects in tomorrow's parliamentary election in UP?

It will affect their chances. I am sure they will fare badly in the second phase of elections in UP.

Why this sudden decision?

Every decision has to be taken at an appropriate time in politics. Moreover, all secular parties were not sure we would be able to prove a majority. When they were sure I could get a majority, we took the decision to withdraw support.

So what effect will this have on the Centre?

I am sure a non-BJP, secular party will form the government at the Centre.

Elections '98

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