Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has a lot to say about family and politics — but refuses to be drawn into a conversation about his former confidant Amar Singh, who was expelled from the party on Tuesday.
“We (Amar and I) have worked together for 14 years. I will neither comment on nor clarify the charges levelled by him against my family or me,” Mulayam told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview at his party office on Thursday. “After all, there are some ethics and courtesies in politics too.”
Mulayam is even more respectful towards Jaya Bachchan. “I will never act, react or speak against Jaya Bachchan. She is a very honest, sensible and intelligent person,” he said. “She is not a politician but has a political mind. Even if she criticised me, I will never utter a word against Mrs Bachchan.”
He said he also respected the actor-politician’s husband Amitabh Bachchan, describing him as “the only Bollywood star with a countrywide appeal”.
However, perhaps in an indirect reaction to Amar’s claim that the SP leadership was “casteist, communal and family-run”, Mulayam said his brothers led a farmer’s life in Etawah.
“Except once when I had to bring my elder brother to Lucknow for medical treatment after he met with an accident, neither of the two have visited the state capital in my entire political career spanning over four decades,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said.
“Ratan Singh, my elder brother, fought the 1965 war against Pakistan. Today he spends his days at his farm on a charpoy. People often assemble to listen to his war tales,” he said, adding that another brother, Ram Das, was a farmer. “You can find him ploughing fields any time of the day. No one will believe that they are my brothers. They have nothing to do with politics.”
He said that except his younger brother Shivpal Yadav, “whom legislators wanted in my cabinet”, no one in his family was given plum postings when he was chief minister.
On his party’s relation with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who had launched his own party, Mulayam said: “Why rake up old issues now?”
But Yadav made it clear while the iron fist may not yet be out, the velvet gloves are off. “I have decided to take firm action against dissidents, irrespective of their stature in the party,” he said. “Dissidence weakens the party and never strengthens it.”