Interview: Shahid Siddiqui


‘SP needs Congress support’
NEHA DIXIT quizzes Shahid Siddiqui on his compulsions for quitting the SP and joining its archrival, the BSP
Photo: Shailendra Pandey
Why did you switch from the SP to the BSP?
It was because of the nuclear deal. SP initially was against the deal but later it decided that it wants to support the Congress and changed its stand. I have read the deal, visited the US a number of times in connection with the deal and spoken to Condoleeza Rice. In no way is this deal in the country’s interest. Hence I had to opt out. SP was a secular, socialist party. It has lost its focus.
Are you against the deal also because you are a Muslim?
To an extent. All Muslims in the world are against American policies. American Jews are lobbying for the deal to the extent that they are influencing Indians also to go for the deal. There is this big lobby in the American interest everywhere and I will not support it. Also because of the American atrocities on Muslims across the world under George Bush’s regime.
But your own newspaper ‘Nai Duniya’ carried a survey that said that 80 percent Muslims will vote on the issue of inflation and not foreign policy.
See, if Muslims can vote on inflation, they can also vote on the nuclear deal. If you see my being a Muslim as reason enough to oppose the deal, then you can do so.
Why has the SP decided to support the Congress?
Purely for political reasons. They realised that they can’t come back to power in UP in any way. To come back to power they needed Congress’s support and hence they decided to support the UPA. They thought that’s the only way to beat Mayawati. It’s vendetta politics. Rivalry.
But haven’t you been critical of Mayawati in the past?
I was the General Secretary of the Samajwadi Party. What did you expect me to do? Anyone will be critical in a position like that. Politics is not about individuals. It is about the party. I was against the deal. I could have stood out alone but I needed the support of a party. I could not join the Congress and I could not join the BJP due to my secular ideology. So which party was left in UP? Only the BSP. It is the largest party in the state and hence I joined it.
But what assures you that Mayawati and the BSP will not change their stand?
Nothing. I can’t say. I have taken a road but I do not know the end. I have taken a chance. I don’t know what will happen next.
What’s the one thing about Mayawati that persuaded you?
Mayawati and Mamta Banerjee are the only two leaders who had no base and are not from a political background or from some political family. They have made their own ground. They don’t have fathers and relatives to back them. They have guts and have risen to the top. This influenced me.
Are there any other leaders in the SP who have a problem on this issue with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, just as you had?
There are such leaders everywhere. Amar Singh is a personal friend and I respect him. But not many people have the ability to stand up and oppose.
Any plans of going back to the SP?
No, not as of now.
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 30, Dated Aug 02, 2008
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