Mulayam and Mamata
New Delhi, June 27: Mulayam Singh Yadav is confident it is a matter of time before he and Mamata Banerjee patch up, letting bygones be bygones.
The Samajwadi Party chief believes creating a “third front” and positioning it as the only national alternative before the 2014 polls is “far more important” to him and the Trinamul Congress leader than the preferences displayed for the presidential election.
Mulayam claimed regional parties like the Samajwadi and Trinamul would pip the Congress and the BJP to the post and offer a “durable rainbow” coalition at the Centre.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Mulayam said the Samajwadi planned to host its national executive meeting in Calcutta on August 10-11, as was proposed earlier, after the presidential poll.
He added he would use the occasion to reach out to “my sister” Mamata and set the “record straight” on why he opted to back Pranab Mukherjee for President instead of Mamata’s candidate, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
“I will speak to her on phone first and then visit her. Even if she doesn’t welcome me, I will insist on entering her home. I am sure things will be sorted out thereafter,” he said.
Mulayam said from the beginning, he had been “sceptical” of eliciting Kalam’s consent and had conveyed as much to Mamata. “I told Mamataji he will not agree to a contest. I was proved right when he withdrew,” he said.
He clarified that his support for Mukherjee must not be “misconstrued” as the beginning of a long-term partnership with the Congress.
“The Congress is celebrating the backing for Mukherjee as a victory of sorts. But the aura will not sustain beyond five or six months. After that it will be down to the nitty-gritty of winning and losing state elections before the 2014 battle,” he said.
“The regional forces are gaining in strength everywhere. Mamata will sweep Bengal, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar my party and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) are doing very well. In Tamil Nadu and Odisha, it’s Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik all the way and in Andhra Pradesh, it’s Jagan Reddy. The Congress will not be able to retain its lead in Rajasthan, what to talk of the other states.”
The Mulayam-Mamata pact for the presidential election lasted precisely 36 hours before the Samajwadi boss went his own way and decided on rooting for Mukherjee after a late-night meeting with Sonia Gandhi.
“Sonia wavered on Mukherjee when I met her over a month ago. But after Mamata and I jointly proposed three names (Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee), her hand was virtually forced on Mukherjee. It seemed she had no choice but to put forth his name. She told me that night you suggested Mukherjee and I have accepted his candidacy,” said Mulayam.
Mukherjee called on him this evening as a thanksgiving ritual and was offered the famed mangoes of Malihabad. Mulayam said he would be present when Mukherjee files his nomination on Thursday morning.
Asked if the Centre was releasing money to straighten out Uttar Pradesh’s finances, Mulayam said: “It seems they will be giving the first tranche shortly.”
Asked if he would shed his reservations about Hamid Ansari in case the Congress thought of giving him a second term as Vice-President, Mulayam said: “We had issues with his candidacy for the presidency. I don’t think those circumstances will weigh with us for the Vice-President’s post. He is from Uttar Pradesh and belongs to a distinguished political family. Besides, he has kept a safe distance from his notorious relatives.”
The “notorious” relatives Mulayam alluded to were Ansari’s cousins Afzal and Mukhtar. The Ansaris belong to Ghazipur in east Uttar Pradesh. Afzal and Mukhtar have done their stints with the Samajwadi and the BSP before they fell foul of the leaders and went their own ways.