What is the most notable thing about your campaign so far?
Mulayam Singh Yadav: It has been hectic. Even on the day I was required to cast my vote at Bharthana in the first phase, I addressed four election meetings. On other days, it has varied from three to 10 meetings.
How did the first phase go?
MSY: Splendid. In the worst-case scenario, we hope to win 37 out of 62 seats that have gone to polls. We are being very conservative in our estimates and have not counted the seats where margins are likely to be low. We are going to surprise many elections watchers.
In the overall tally, where do you find your party?
MSY: We will emerge the single largest party and form the government. The second phase may not be the best for our party but the third phase should mark our highest tally. In no case do I see my party winning less than 170 seats.
What is is your strength this time around?
MSY: We have performed well. So many poor people have benefited from our government. We have spent an unprecedented amount on development. Construction of bridges, roads and other public facilities during the past three years excels the development works undertaken during the past many decades.
What do you think of the staggering of polling?
MSY: It is not fair to the people. The Election Commission has been harsh. This looks like the Samajwadi Party versus the Election Commission.
How do you see the response to the Bareli public meeting addressed by regional leaders (like S. Bangarappa, O.P. Chautala, Chandrababu Naidu, Natwar Singh, Jaya Prada and Jaya Bachchan) last Sunday?
MSY: It would have a bearing on national politics as a new front is emerging against the Congress.
And in state politics?
MSY: Yes, at the local level too, the people will respond positively to our effort.
Were you happy with the public response to the Bareli meeting?
MSY: Yes, they were mostly farmers and poor people who made it despite a busy harvesting schedule.
Do you see Muslim votes being divided this time around?
MSY: We don’t seek votes on communal basis. But Muslims have voted for us in large numbers and this year is not going to be any different.