The Samajwadi Party (SP) won’t allow seat-sharing negotiations in Uttar Pradesh to become a media spectacle, said party leader Javed Ali Khan, who is part of the INDIA bloc’s 14-member coordination committee.
In an interview to The Hindu, he also junked suggestions that the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are pretending to be cosying up to the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as a tactic to get more seats for themselves in the State.
Mr. Khan, who emerged as a surprise party choice for the INDIA panel, said the SP is “neither rigid nor too flexible” on seat-sharing in the State and will come up with details soon. “In U.P., it is easier to negotiate. Bihar is going to be much more complex but someone should also ask the BJP how it will adjust the 38 NDA partners that it paraded in Delhi recently,” he added.
However, he said, “We will not allow seat-sharing negotiations in U.P. to become a tamasha (spectacle) for the prime-time debate (on news channels).”
On the possibility of the BSP’s inclusion in the Opposition alliance, Mr. Khan said it was never discussed by members of the bloc. The kind of statements the BSP chief is making suggests that her course of action will be guided by interests of the ruling party, he added.
Mr. Khan also said the SP has “emerged out of the anti-Congress sentiment” and people should not read much into the earlier remarks made by their leader Akhilesh Yadav, who had likened the Congress to the BJP when Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was in progress. “At present, the BJP is far more tyrannical and arrogant than the Congress ever was,” he said.
‘BJP fears INDIA bloc’
The two-time Rajya Sabha member said his party won’t mind if the country’s name is changed to Bharat as their late founder Mulayam Singh Yadav had talked about it in their party’s 2004 manifesto. He, however, said the BJP is coming up with such tactics as it is scared of the INDIA bloc.
“If they want to eradicate the word India altogether, then they will have to erase it from a dozen government schemes that have no Hindi equivalent and also retrospectively change the phrase ‘India Shining’. The reality is that the BJP is scared of the INDIA bloc and that is why it is coming up with such gimmicks,” he said.
Hailing from Sambhal in western U.P., Mr. Khan emerged from the student politics of Jamia Millia Islamia and joined the SP in 1994. A close confidant of the late Mulayam, he is known as a thorough organisation man, the antithesis of the senior Muslim leaders such as Shafiqu Ur Rahman Barq and Azam Khan who often court controversy with their shrill remarks. While his recent appointment to the INDIA coordination committee is being seen as an attempt to placate the SP’s Muslim vote bank, he said he should not be seen as a Muslim face of the party.
“Does anybody say Narendra Modi is the Hindu face of the BJP? My mandate is not to polarise the Muslim community towards the SP. My job is to carry out the negotiations with the like-minded parties so that the INDIA bloc could realise its maximum potential in the 80 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh,” he said.