How hopeful are you of an alliance among the Samajwadi Party, the RLD, the JD(U) and the RJD in Uttar Pradesh?
In the situation that prevails today, everybody feels an alliance is needed. When parties think they can win alone, they don’t go for a alliance. They talk about that only when they feel that the emerging political situation requires it. I believe there is a situation in Uttar Pradesh that warrants an alliance. I had already said such an alliance is the need of the hour to check the BJP.
You, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav attended the Samajwadi Party’s silver jubilee. After that, should there be any more doubts over the alliance?
Everybody on the stage was in favour of an alliance. But that sentiment is a separate thing… We all have to realise that if we want an alliance, it is not going to happen in the way that any one of us desires; a lot of give and take needs to be done. There cannot be two opinions on it — no alliance takes shape unless you are ready to give and take.
Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) did not attend the silver jubilee. Doesn’t that indicate doubts do remain over an alliance?
But Sharad Yadav was there.
Nitish has argued that it cannot be called a grand alliance unless the BSP too joins.
He was objecting to the expression maha gathbandhan being used. What happened in Bihar was that two bitter rivals — both major parties — RJD and JDU joined hands. Here [in UP] the SP and the BSP are two major parties… but this [their coming together] is not possible here. An alliance among other parties is possible.
BSP chief Mayawati has said the alliance will only help the BJP, while BJP chief Amit Shah has said it will have no effect as people are already with the BJP.
The reality is that both the BJP and the BSP are panicking over this effort to stitch together a grand alliance. The BSP gets its core vote but that is not enough to form a government in UP unless the floating votes come to it. Besides, if the grand alliance happens, Muslim consolidation in favour of the BSP will not happen. Muslims will vote for a party that can defeat the BJP and the grand alliance will be in that position.
How effective will the grand alliance be against the BJP if the BSP is out of it?
This depends on the situation. Elections are three or four months away but no one knows what situation will emerge; what is the situation today and what it will turn into next week, no one knows. If you look back at the last three months, single events have led to a change of situation. I still believe there is no clarity about UP so far.
So, does that mean there is a hitch in the formation of a grand alliance?
I am not saying there is any hitch. Let talks begin formally. I am positive about the alliance. When talks start, we will know what are the issues that are to be discussed.
Will the Congress be part of such an alliance? If it is, how important would the Congress be in the alliance?
I have not yet talked to any Congress leader, nor has there been any talk between Mulayam Singh Yadav and me on this. As far as importance is concerned, every party is important.
There is a perception that different factions in the SP have different views on an alliance and that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is not very enthusiastic about it.
I don’t know about that. As far as factions are concerned, every party has factions, not just two but even four or five.
The RLD fared poorly in the Lok Sabha polls. What will it bring to the table?
Parties lose and win elections. These are normal things. Every party is important. The RLD has a social base in western UP that cannot be wished away.
What happened to the earlier plan for a JD(U)-RLD alliance with smaller parties like the Peace Party?
We were about to start addressing joint rallies. But now a situation has emerged. Let us first see how this pans out.
What happened to the merger plan — SP, JDU, RLD, SJP, JDS, INLD — started over a year ago? Could the alliance be a precursor to a merger plan?
That came to an end in February. Right now it is difficult to say anything about it. Nothing is being discussed about it [a merger] nor is there any need to. Elections are just three months away.
Amit Shah has said that like in the last Lok Sabha polls, western UP [where the RLD draws its strength] will support the BJP again. Issues like triple talaq and migration of Hindus from Kairana have also come up.
The BJP-led government at the Centre has completed 2½ years and done nothing for farmers or made any progress on issues like bringing back black money. They have no other alternative to come to power except by communalising the election and triggering riots. But such attempts will fail.