Debating India


Anti-Congress, anti-BJP mood

Saturday 11 September 1999, by RAMAKRISHNAN*Venkitesh

Samajwadi Party (S.P.) president Mulayam Singh Yadav has been on the campaign trail for the past one and a half months, mostly in Uttar Pradesh where his party contests 83 of the 85 Lok Sabha seats. He has also made trips to Maharashtra, Rajasthan , Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where the S.P. has fielded candidates. When Venkitesh Ramakrishnan met him in Delhi for an interview, Mulayam Singh Yadav was upbeat, obviously undeterred by reports of erosion of the S.P.’s support base, especially am ong the minorities. Excerpts:

Whatever happened to your efforts to form a third front as an alternative to both the Congress(I) and the BJP?

We have forged an alliance in Maharashtra with the Nationalist Congress Party, the Republican Party of India (Athawale), the Peasants and Workers Party and the Janata Dal (Secular) led by Deve Gowda. In Uttar Pradesh too the NCP and the Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) led by former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar are with us. In Gujarat and Rajasthan we have an understanding with the NCP and other like-minded parties. In States where we do not have formal tie-ups because of seat allocation problems, forces opposed to the Congress(I) and the BJP are rallying around the most influential alternative in each constituency. This varies from State to State, sometimes from constituency to constituency.

But such alliances seem too weak to make any real impact on the electoral outcome.

The fundamental problem with many of our non-Congress(I), non-BJP friends is that they have lost confidence in themselves. They have failed to read the anti-Congress(I), anti-BJP mood among dominant sections. I am sure they will realise the situation onc e the election results come out.

Many of them, including your former allies such as the CPI(M), see the BJP as the main enemy now.

That is their perception. The S.P. has its own perception of the national situation. As far as I am concerned there is no doubt that parties such as the CPI(M) have made a grievous error in assessing the situation. I am sure they will correct their mista ke in course of time.

But you had said earlier that the days of ’anti-Congressism’ are over. That was one of the premises on which the S.P. and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) formed the Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha.

At that time we wanted to oust the Vajpayee government and put an end to the Sangh Parivar’s communal and fascist rule. We were ready to give the Congress(I), the largest Opposition party, an opportunity to lead this fight. However, the Congress(I) faile d miserably in fulfilling this responsibility. Instead, it competed with the BJP in asserting its commitment to Hindutva. Even the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution to underline this point. After all this, Congress(I) leaders are trying to b e votaries of protecting the minorities. They are trying to teach us the values of secularism. Nothing could be more ridiculous than this.

The general impression is that this time the fight is essentially between the Congress(I) and the BJP in a majority of States.

Some sections of the media do not tire of converting India into a bipolar political society. But India is too pluralistic socially and politically to submit totally to the fascist- communal agenda of the BJP or the dynastic rule of the Congress(I). Remem ber the 1991 elections? Then too the Third Front was written off and said to be non-existent. But in the round of polls held before the unfortunate assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, it was the Third Front parties that claimed the majority of seats.

See online : Frontline


Volume 16 - Issue 19, Sep. 11 - 24, 1999

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