New Delhi, May 15: Mulayam Singh Yadav has ruled out the prospect of the non-Congress, non-BJP parties fielding a candidate for the presidential election and indicated that he would reveal his mind only after the Congress and the BJP declare their nominees.
“I have to see if the BJP puts up its own candidate or supports another nominee. My sense is the BJP might not put up its nominee. But till the last word is spoken, the scene is open,” the Samajwadi Party president told The Telegraph.
Asked why the BJP’s game plan mattered as he was unlikely to back its candidate because of the “communal” tag on the party, he said: “It is the principal Opposition after all.”
Mulayam maintained that he and Mamata Banerjee had not discussed the presidential polls when the Bengal chief minister had called on him during her visit to Delhi earlier this month. “We talked politics but not about this election. In the absence of names, what were we to discuss? The Congress and the BJP had better make up their minds fast, by early June at least, so that we can also firm up our support,” he said.
On the chances of the emergence of a “third front” like the United Front coalition, the Samajwadi chief sounded tentative and suggested that the main problem was the lack of a leader who would spearhead such a combine. “There is no (Harkishen Singh) Surjeet or Jyoti Basu. They were leaders who thought big. The CPM has become weak and that is at the root of the problem why a strong Opposition has not emerged. Democracy is robust only when the ruling party and the Opposition are equally strong. We had formed a front (before the 2009 elections) of the Left, Chandrababu Naidu, Jayalalithaa, the Asom Gana Parishad and Om Prakash Chautala. But it splintered.”
Asked about his relations with the Congress and whether its leaders had reached out to the Samajwadi for support just after the Uttar Pradesh elections in March to cushion the UPA government against Mamata’s whims and threats, Mulayam denied the theories. “I don’t know where from such stories emanated. There was no truth in them. I am out of the UPA. The only reason why I support the Centre is to keep the communal forces at bay. Congress leaders have never invited me to a single UPA meeting.”
Mulayam admitted to secretly admiring Mamata for taking on the Congress from time to time: “The difference between her and say Sharad Pawar (the NCP chief) is that Mamata has a majority of her own (in Bengal) and, therefore, can take an independent stand on issues and policies. Pawar has no majority (in Maharashtra). Come to think of it, both Mamata and the Samajwadi run governments with their own majority.”
As for the BJP, Mulayam believed the party was gripped by “excessive groupism”. “Time was when everybody admired the kind of discipline the BJP maintained. Look at them now. Trouble in Karnataka, in Rajasthan. What was the need to provoke that lady (Vasundhara Raje) for no reason? Everyone knows that she is popular among people and commands the backing of a majority of the MLAs.”