Battle lines are drawn between Generation Next leaders Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. For, Yadav holds Gandhi responsible for his wife’s defeat in by-elections.
Your wife lost Firozabad to Raj Babbar of the Congress. How do you see the defeat?
Now it’s a battle between Rahul (Gandhi) and I. The battle lines are drawn. Till now, it was between the party seniors, but now the battle goes to the next generation. We now sound the bugle for the UP assembly elections in 2012.
Are you challenging Rahul Gandhi?
No, I am not. Rahul challenged me. He drew first blood. It was after a gap of 32 years that any big Congress leader entered Firozabad after Indira Gandhi in 1977. Rahul entered it — specifically to defeat us.
How do you weigh against Rahul?
The battle is evenly poised. They (the Congress) lost Jhansi and Padrauna. It was Jhansi where Rahul Gandhi talked about his Bundelkhand and NREGS campaigns and broke bread with the Dalits. But the drama translated into rejection. They lost another seat (Padrauna). Everyone is giving him the credit for the victories, overlooking the defeats.
What about Raj Babbar?
He used to call my father (Mulayam Singh Yadav) Netaji (the leader) and a brother. And I, in turn, used to call him chacha (uncle). So, Dimple is his bahu (daughter-in-law). But during campaigning, he did not hesitate to run Dimple down.
(Babbar said on Wednesday in Delhi that since the elections were over, Dimple was now like Juhi – his daughter – to him.)
How’ll you fight against the Congress? Would you like to bare some of the arrows in your quiver?
We have a lot. For instance, who is responsible for the deplorable human development indicators in Uttar Pradesh? It’s the Congress. The Congress ruled for long, but never paid attention to the state. It is the Congress that is responsible for price rise, fertilisers crisis and cane farmers sorrows.
What factors do you attribute the loss to?
It’s money power and the BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party) siding with the Congress. How come the BJP that garnered one lakh votes in the general elections in the constituency, got just 9,000 votes in the by-election? Dimple got just about the same numbers of votes as I had. It is the BJP votes that went to the Congress.
What about Dimple’s future in politics?
She will contest again. Even before agreeing to enter politics, she was aware that losses and victories are part of the game. She has tasted defeat and accepted it with grace.