Modi&’s rise was part of Congress’ agenda
A prominent face among Indian Muslims, Kamal Farooqui is a qualified chartered accountant and a specialist in banking and financial management. He is at present national secretary of the Samajwadi Party, which he joined in 2011. He has been actively associated with civil society groups and has had close links with the Congress; he also chaired the Delhi Minorities Commission and is associated with several eminent Muslim organisations, including the All India Milli Council (AIMC). He spoke to ALOK KUMAR on the emerging political scenario and the prospect of a non-Congress, non-BJP political formation.
How do you view the anointment of Mr Narendra Modi as chairman of the BJP Election Campaign Committee and appointment of Amit Shah as election in-charge for Uttar Pradesh? Do you expect polarisation along communal lines in the coming election? If so, which party, according to you, is going to benefit electorally?
In fact, this development is in line with the expectations of the Congress. The Congress, as part of a well-thought-out plan, gave one state (Gujarat) to the saffron party, so that in the rest of the country, it could pretend to be the only formidable force able to fight the saffron upsurge being witnessed as a consequence of the rise of Mr Modi.
During the last Assembly poll in Gujarat, the Congress did not contest the election the way it should have. It did not allow its leaders with a proven secular track record like Mani Shankar Aiyar to campaign for the party in the state. Nor did it send any of its prominent Muslim leaders to campaign. It was somewhere in the mind of the Congress leadership that if Modi was going to win for the fourth time in the Assembly polls, he would emerge as a strong figure nationally and the BJP would be forced to project him as prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections.
But the Congress, having a presence in all parts of the country, may emerge as a better choice for secular elements among Hindus as well as the minorities?
This is not a fact. The Congress has recently shown its nervousness about polarisation along communal lines not working in its favour, fearing such polarisation may drive away both minority and majority communities from it. The Congress was quick to distance itself from Jairam Ramesh’s statement saying Modi is indeed a threat to the party.
If at all there will be a division of voters along communal lines, it will be SP and not the Congress, which would be the choice of minorities as Congress in the Hindi heartland, especially in UP, has not only a depleted social support base but it also has to bear the brunt of so many scams under UPA-II.
The people of UP, or of the rest of the Hindi heartland, will not put their money on a losing horse. Even a pan-Indian perspective will prevent Muslims from voting for the Congress as they did in 2009.
What if L K Advani were to come out of the BJP? Will he be acceptable to the Third Front or the Federal Front as the prime ministerial candidate?
I don’t think Advaniji will do so. He cannot take such a bold decision as he has had his political upbringing in the RSS. He is the one who promoted the BJP. Moreover, it was he who had donned the role of Modi in the 1990s and was responsible for demolition of the Babri mosque. Even in 2002, he was the saviour of Modi and vetoed Atal Behari Vajpayee, who wanted to take action against him (Modi) after the Gujarat riots. You can call Advani a moderate in the BJP, like Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, but you cannot call him a secular person. Moreover, which votes will Advaniji bring to the Federal Front or the Third Front?
So, there is not even a remote possibility of a Federal Front under Advaniji’s leadership. There are so many other senior leaders among non-Congress and non-BJP parties like Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik, among others.
What is the Samajwadi Party&’s stand on the Federal Front?
Our leader Mulayam Singh was the first to say that the post-2014 election will throw up a non-BJP, non-Congress government, never mind the nomenclature. Such a Front has bright prospects as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand have about 200 seats in their kitty.
But who will be the leader of this group?
Till date, even the two existing major political formations, the UPA and the NDA, or two biggest political parties, the Congress and the BJP, have not been able to decide who will be their prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections. The Congress is not
decided about its incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whereas in 2009 they declared him as their prime ministerial candidate well in advance. The BJP, too, so far has been hesitant about declaring Modi as its prime ministerial candidate openly.
What about Mulayam Singh emerging as the choice for prime minister in the post-poll scenario?
Netaji (Mulayam Singh), being one of the senior politicians around, he may emerge as a choice for that post, but he may also support someone else emerging as consensus candidate. In UP, we are hoping for anywhere between 30 to 40 seats in the next Lok Sabha polls. We also hope to get a few seats in other states in alliance with other secular political outfits. This will make Mulayam Singh a formidable contender for the prime minister&’s job. But we won’t place it as a precondition for a front to emerge.
What is your party&’s stand on the food security Bill?
We are totally against it. It will not only put a lot of pressure on the national exchequer, but will also have an adverse effect on the farming community. Who is stopping the government from distributing food grain that is rotting?