Kalyan factor raises questions on Mulayam’s secular credentials

January 25th, 2009 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyLucknow, Jan 25 (IANS) Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s secular credentials could take a beating on account of his new-found relationship with estranged Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalyan Singh, who not only remained BJP’s Hindutva mascot for years but also headed the Ayodhya temple movement culminating in the demolition of the Babri mosque during his chief ministership in 1992.Even as Mulayam Singh has been busy claiming that the affinity with Kalyan Singh would not adversely affect his goodwill with Muslims, whose support was responsible for taking his party’s tally to an all time high of 39 at the last Lok Sabha elections, the simmering discontent on that account is already visible in his party.

Prominent Samajwadi Party leader and five-time Lok Sabha member Saleem Sherwani has made up his mind to quit the party. Denouncing the “Kalyan deal”, he is all set to contest the Budaun Lok Sabha seat as an independent.

Azam Khan, another well-known Muslim face of the party, was also extremely chagrined over his “netaji’s” move to embrace the “most communal face of the Hindu brigade”.

Khan told IANS: “This is just not acceptable to me. Kalyan Singh is a hardcore RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) man who was directly responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. How can I brush shoulders with a man like him?”

He wondered, “What has led Mulayam Singh-ji to go for such an alignment?”

Sherwani’s disillusionment with Mulayam Singh was already brewing on account of another factor - Mulayam’s apparent bias for his kin. Ignoring Sherwani’s claim to the seat from where he had won five times out of the six parliamentary elections, Mulayam Singh has openly expressed his inclination to field his own nephew Dharmendra Yadav instead.

“Doesn’t he appear to be bitten by the same bug as Kalyan Singh - love for family above everything else?” asked Sherwani. “After all, his new-found friend Kalyan Singh too decided to abandon his BJP simply for the sake of his son Rajvir Singh, whose interest has become far above the larger interest of his own party for him,” he pointed out.

Interestingly, Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav had won the last election from Mainpuri, where he had earned a bad name for allegedly furthering his personal vested interests and utter neglect of the constituency.

Mulayam Singh did not think twice before deciding to hand over his choice - Budaun - to his nephew on a platter. The only thing that apparently dominated his mind was the high Yadav population in the constituency. However, what the Samajwadi Party leader seems to have overlooked is that while there are about 316,000 Yadav votes in the constituency, there are around 290,000 Muslim votes as well.

And the popular support for Sherwani from both communities became amply visible when an impromptu call by him for a public rally in Budaun drew a big crowd of around 35,000 last week. The local masses - including a chunk of Yadavs - swore to support Sherwani to the hilt - minus Mulayam.

However, Mulayam Singh does not seem to believe that the Kalyan factor would cause any harm to his party’s prospects.

“Misleading statements by a few individuals will not change my goodwill with the Muslims, who are fully aware that none other than the Samajwadi Party is sincere and committed towards them,” he said.

Asked if Kalyan’s profile as the key man behind the 1992 Babri mosque demolition will not impact his own image as the saviour of that very mosque, Mulayam Singh shot back: “The temple-mosque issue does not hold any significance for the people of the state”.

Asked how this development would affect his yet-to-crystallize alliance with the Congress, the Samajwadi Party chief pointed out: “Earlier, hardcore Shiv Sainiks like Chhagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane and Sanjay Nirupam have become a part of the Congress.”

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