Onetime Socialist firebrand George Fernandes has served notice he could quit the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and align with the Samajwadi Party as he feels betrayed by his parent Janata Dal-United (JD-U) that he once headed.
He could even quit his Lok Sabha seat and revive the Samata Party that was merged into the JD-U, Fernandes told Karan Thapar in a wide-ranging interview to be broadcast in the Devil's Advocate programme of CNN-IBN on Sunday.
The former defence minister made it clear he was not considering joining the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. However, he confirmed he had invited Yadav to a socialist gathering on Oct 12 to mark the death anniversary of Socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohia.
Would this invitation not lead to a break with JD-U leaders Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, as also the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
"None of them (Kumar and Yadav) have any use for me and I don't think they will miss me," Fernandes retorted.
As for the impact on BJP, Fernandes stated: "The BJP does want to defeat Mulayam but I have always stood by Mulayam and here also I stand by Mulayam."
Thapar: In other words, you are cementing a relationship with Mulayam Singh Yadav on a socialist platform?
Fernandes: I am not doing it (just) now. Mulayam and I have been together for almost 40 years. When he was having a situation where his life was in danger I have stood by him.
Q: From that day onwards the two of you have been inseparable?
A: Yes, but our relations go earlier to that because he was also a part of the Socialist Party and so was I.
Q: In other words, socialist blood is thicker than mere political water?
A: Yes, it has to be...In so far as Mulayam is concerned, he was the only man who understood what that racket Tehelka was. In Parliament, outside Parliament, he spoke the truth and he got his people also to speak the truth. And he stood by me.
Fernandes said he was thinking about re-launching the Samata Party although he hasn't made up his mind about this.
"There are people who want it to be re-vitalised. It depends on how things move in the days to come," he contended.
Thapar: In other words, you're also thinking of resigning from the JD-U and quitting your parliamentary seat as well, because the two have to go together?"
Fernandes: So be it.
Thapar: You want to keep your own distinct identity but you would like it to be as close to Mulayam Singh Yadav as possible. That's why you may consider re-launching the Samata Party but you don't want to join the Samajwadi Party. Is that right?
Fernandes: Yes, that's right.