Expelled SP spokesperson and well-known Urdu journalist Shahid Siddiqui told HT in an exclusive on Saturday that Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was "no longer in touch with reality".
"The SP supremo does not understand the Muslim psyche. Muslims are angry with him over the riots in various parts of UP. He is playing to the gallery and thinks that by taking action against me on the Narendra Modi interview, he will endear himself once again to the Muslim electorate. He should stop the gimmicks and deliver on his promises," Siddiqui said.
"My community knows my commitment to its welfare. Mulayam must realise this. He should know one does not become secular by mouthing words but by actual deeds."
Asked what led to his sacking, he said, "It is the politics of guilt of some SP leaders who shared the dais with former UP CM Kalyan Singh some years ago."
Shahid Siddiqui who interviewed Narendra Modi is seen during an interview with the Hindustan Times in New Delhi. HT/Vipin Kumar
Describing senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav's press release distancing his organisation from him, Siddiqui said, "It was not a very intelligent statement. Everyone knows I was re-admitted to the SP by Mulayam on January 6 along with former INLD MP Anuradha Chaudhury and have been the party spokesperson on all major TV channels. And if they have acted against me for interviewing Modi, why haven't they removed Chaudhury, who once shared a stage with Modi?"
Siddiqui, who watched the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises after Yadav's statement on Saturday morning, said he was "very relieved" to no longer be a member of a political party.
"I have done no wrong. I have always pursued my journalism and not allowed my political activities to come in the way. I interviewed Indira Gandhi even after she had put my 82-year-old father in jail during the Emergency, PV Narasimha Rao after the Babri demolition, Jyoti Basu and Atal Behari Vajpayee," he said.
"I have not become Modi's follower by interviewing him. I am his worst critic and want him to resign and face unhindered investigations if he wants to prove a point."
He said the idea to interview Modi had come up during an informal get-together in Mumbai with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, scriptwriter Salim Khan and businessman Zafar Sareshwala.
"We thought it would be a good idea for an Urdu newspaper to grill him on Gujarat riots. I have done no wrong. After all my newspaper, Nai Duniya, is among the most-read Urdu newspapers in the country."
Siddiqui said that after being with several parties and outfits like the SFI, Congress, SP, BSP and INLD, he had decided to not join any and concentrate on his journalism.
"I have taken this decision as my being a journalist has been the biggest impediment in my progress in political party activity. I stand for the freedom of press and will continue to listen to the voice of my conscience. On an earlier occasion, I parted company with the SP since it changed its stand on the nuclear deal issue. I left Mayawati because she was too autocratic. I have my own political views, which I will express in my writings. It is not the end of the road for me," he said.
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