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The Rediff Interview/Kalyan Singh

April 29, 2003

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh met three prominent Bharatiya Janata Party members on April 22 in Lucknow. Though the discussions were confidential, media reports hinted that Singh was contemplating rejoining the BJP at the instance of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.

Singh subsequently met Lalji Tandon, a senior BJP minister in UP, thereby strengthening the speculation.

In an interview with Chief Correspondents Onkar Singh and Tara Shankar Sahay, Singh denied plans of returning to the BJP from which he was expelled in 1999.

Some important BJP leaders met you in Lucknow. On whose initiative did they meet you?

On April 22 three senior BJP leaders -- Balbir Punj, Dinanath Misra and S Gurumurthy -- met me in Lucknow. We had long discussions. What the nature of the talks were or whether the top BJP leadership had given its approval or not I would not like to disclose.

Do you think they could have met you on their own?

During the discussions it was decided that none of us would disclose the nature of the talks to the media. It came as a surprise to me that our meeting was leaked to the press. I think someone in the BJP deliberately leaked out the information to the media.

Have you benefited from the leak or has it damaged your prospects of returning to the party?

I am running my own party, the Rashtriya Kranti Party. Neither have I am benefited from this leak nor has it damaged [me]. I do not believe in stories. I go by hard facts. Ground realities are more important than anything else. I am busy strengthening my party. From now till June 15 we will have a series of party meetings in various places in Uttar Pradesh. Each meeting will be attended by more than 5,000 workers. I am least bothered about what is being printed in the media. I am doing my party work.

A leading national daily has claimed you are joining the Congress. Is that true?

What can I say about these kind of stories? If any such story has indeed been printed then I deny it.

Does the Rashtriya Kranti Party have any links with Prime Minister Vajpayee?

No, we do not have any links with Vajpayee in any manner. Some people keep coming to me and hold talks. Since I know those persons, I have no hesitation in meeting them.

Did you meet Lalji Tandon on Sunday, April 27?

Yes, I did meet Lalji Tandon. He had collapsed at a public meeting in Lucknow sometime back. He is not well so I went to meet him as he was staying at UP Sadan where I am also staying. I felt it was my duty to inquire about his health. [Senior BJP leader] Kalraj Mishra was present in the room. The newspapers have run a story on that. Tandonji is now in [New Delhi's] Ram Manohar Lohia hospital and I do intend to go and see him there.

Mayawati has ordered a review of decisions made by previous UP chief ministers. Do you accept her challenge?

Of course, I accept her challenge. But before she looks into the deeds of her predecessors she should have a look at her own doings or misdoings. Her's is the politics of revenge. She has lost her mental balance.

This is the first time I have heard that over one hundred FIRs [First Information Reports] were registered against a former chief minister in one night. She has not spared anyone. FIRs have been registered against eminent persons like [Samajwadi Party president] Mulayam Singh Yadav, [Samajwadi Party national general secretary] Amar Singh, former governor Motilal Vora.

She is pushing UP towards caste conflict. If she is not stopped now it could lead UP to a civil war. She is trying to terrorise  political opponents by resorting to FIRs etc. This is a highly unjust act. If the politics of revenge continues the next chief minister will also do the same thing.

If she has the courage then she should face an impartial probe herself. She has grossly misused government machinery and government money for holding party rallies. She has spent Rs 76 lakhs from the government's contingency fund. For the first time, money was drawn to celebrate a birthday. Contingency funds are used only in case of natural calamities. If she wants to be impartial then she should order probes into the land scams of Greater NOIDA, Ghaziabad, Aligarh and several other places.

You have said Mayawati and [BSP founder] Kanshi Ram are experts in the politics of deceit. To what extent is she benefiting from it and how much is the BJP losing out?

The BJP has been losing ground ever since they joined hands with the BSP in Uttar Pradesh. The only gainer from the present arrangement is Mayawati. She has not only consolidated her vote bank but also her note bank.

The BJP wants to have an alliance with BSP for the 2004 Lok Sabha election. Do you think it would work?

The BJP leadership that is banking on Mayawati for the Lok Sabha election is living under some kind of illusion. She is expert in 'palti mar' [volte face] politics. First of all, the BSP would go alone in the Lok Sabha election. If she is forced to go in for an alliance, she will keep 50 seats for the BSP and ask the BJP to contest 30 odd seats, out of which National Democratic Alliance partners like Ajit Singh will get four. Effectively, the BJP would get just 26 seats.

If you and Mulayam Singh forge an alliance, can you come to power in UP?

Our alliance is strong and we would certainly come to power in Uttar Pradesh in the state assembly election as and when they take place.

Do you think the Ayodhya issue will help the BJP in the next election?

The politics of religion is not going to work in the 2004 general election. The BJP has already reaped the benefits of religious politics in the early 1990s. Now the issue is dead. People have seen through the BJP. Whenever elections are around the corner they whip up the temple issue. It cannot work again and again.

Do you think the Ayodhya issue can ever be solved?

Of course, it can be solved. It can be solved either through a court order which everyone needs to obey or through dialogue. As chief minister of Uttar Pradesh I managed to bring about a compromise between the Shia and Sunni Muslims. I spoke to both communities and told them of my resolve to sort out this mess. I was successful. If only we talk to maulanas and pujaris, I am sure we can sort out this problem as well.

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