New Delhi: Set to
reign Uttar Pradesh on the back of a massive mandate, the Samajwadi Party (SP) wants the Congress-led UPA government in New
Delhi to help it with funds for development of the state, says
party leader Shahid Siddiqui, adding that the Congress should not
take his party's support for granted.
The SP, which won a stupendous victory in the recently-held
assembly elections, supports the Congress-led United Progressive
Alliance from outside.
"Our support should not be taken for granted," Siddiqui told IANS
in an interview. His party has 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Siddiqui, who rejoined the party in January this year and is yet
to get an official position, said the Congress should support the
demand for a financial package for Uttar Pradesh.
"We want to develop UP. UP needs a strong package; it is not
growing at the required pace... the centre should help us," said
Siddiqui. The previous UPA government did not give any financial
package to the state, asserted the leader.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who scripted the party's win of 224 seats
in the 403-member house, will be sworn in chief minister on March
15, becoming the youngest chief minister of the state at 38.
Asked how Akhilesh and his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav popularly
known as Netaji, would bring development to the state, Siddiqui
said the elder Yadav had experience while Akhilesh had a modern
Siddiqui, 62, quit the SP in July 2008 over the Indo-US nuclear
deal to join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). He later joined
Rashtriya Lok Dal. He had been in the Congress before joining the
In his view, the new political approach of Akhilesh was a key
factor in the party's success, The junior Yadav, he said, had
"emerged as one of the most popular young leaders of the country".
Asked for the reasons for the poor performance of the Congress and
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the elections, Siddiqui said
they were no longer national parties.
"They are no more national parties but multi-regional parties."
In contrast, the SP has a national outlook and has presence across
several states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya
Pradesh, he said.
"The people of Uttar Pradesh wanted change... They have a desire
to be part of India's growth story," said Siddiqui, who joined the
party after quitting the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Elaborating on the debacle suffered by the Congress whose leader
Rahul Gandhi campaigned extensively in the elections, Siddiqui
said Congress leaders "did not understand what the people of Uttar
"Rahul Gandhi failed because he could not get faith of the people.
They realised he did not understand UP," Siddiqui said.
Referring to the tenor of Gandhi's speeches, he said "acting as an
angry young man" was not the same as understanding the state.
He said voters were not impressed by Congress promises to develop
the state as the party was rejected even in family boroughs of
Amethi and Rae Bareli and added that there was "media hype about
the Congress prospects".
Asked about the possibility of emergence of a third front in the
wake of the SP victory in Uttar Pradesh, Siddiqui said West Bengal
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen
Patnaik and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were trying "to
build the front."
"Let us see how it goes. (We have) not given thought to it,"
Elaborating on the reasons for the rout of Mayawati's BSP in the
polls, Siddiqui said disenchantment of Muslims with Mayawati was a
He said the Muslim community realised that even if there were 100
MLAs belonging to the community, they would have no say in a BSP
"Muslims realised they were not getting empowered socially and
economically," Siddiqui said.
The Muslims had also "returned" to Mulayam Singh, he said.
He said anger among the Muslim community against Mulayam had
dissipated after he apologised to them for his decision to take
the support of Kalyan Singh before the 2009 general elections.
Kalyan Singh was chief minister when the Babri Masjid was razed in
In the elections, the BSP got 80 seats, the BJP 47 and the
Congress could win just 28 seats.
Asked if the party would support the Congress during the
presidential polls later this year, Siddiqui said a decision would
be taken in due course.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)