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Party dumps Siddiqui

New Delhi, July 28: The Samajwadi Party today did not expel Shahid Siddiqui, whose interview with Narendra Modi in an Urdu weekly has upset Muslim leaders, as promised.

It did one better, claiming that Siddiqui, who has been the Samajwadi’s face on television for the past six months, was not even a party member.

“To call him a Samajwadi leader is outright wrong. He has nothing to do with the party,” said general secretary and spokesperson Ramgopal Yadav, who had yesterday promised to “speak to party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav tomorrow, after which the process of his (Siddiqui’s) expulsion will start”.

Today, Ramgopal ruled out an inquiry into why Siddiqui, editor and publisher of Nai Duniya, interviewed the Gujarat chief minister. “When someone is not part of a party, why should there be an inquiry?” he said in Lucknow.

The Samajwadi leader issued a statement to “clarify” that Siddiqui had left the party in 2008 after it supported the UPA government on the Indo-US nuclear deal, and gone first to the BSP and then to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal.

What Ramgopal did not say is that Siddiqui returned to the Samajwadi on January 9 this year and was welcomed at the Lucknow party headquarters by Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav. Ramgopal himself was present at the event that came in the midst of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

Photographs and video grabs showed Siddiqui seated next to senior Samajwadi leader Azam Khan, who, sources said, had pushed for his re-induction.

In his speech, Siddiqui had thanked the leaders and said: “I am rejoining the party to raise my voice against the atrocities happening in the state for the past five years. I hope under the leadership of ‘Netaji’ (Mulayam) and Akhilesh, the Samajwadi will come to power in Uttar Pradesh. We will all work hard for this.”

Asked why the party summarily disowned Siddiqui without going through the motions of issuing him a show-cause notice and ordering a probe, another Samajwadi spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhury said: “During an election, so many people come and go that it is impossible to keep a track of all of them. Siddiqui was perhaps not a primary member. In any case he was not a member of our working committee.”

Sources said the Samajwadi, which is coping with a big internal crisis caused by Azam’s revolt against Akhilesh for trying to reduce his organisational mandate, was disinclined to blow up the Siddiqui issue in the public domain.

Azam also distanced himself from Siddiqui. “In politics, neither friendship nor enmity is permanent. But we cannot maintain friendship with someone like Modi. He is an enemy of humanity. It is not right that a person like Modi should have been given an opportunity to give his opinions to a major Urdu publication,” he said.

Siddiqui is expected to break his silence on Sunday.