Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party’s newly appointed general secretary, has been in the eye of the storm ever since a feud erupted in Uttar Pradesh’s first family. Even as disquiet continues to prevail on that front, Singh broke his silence before the Hindustan Times on Saturday.
In an exclusive interview, Singh maintained that there was no confusion in the Samajwadi Party as far as succession was concerned. “While Akhilesh is the CM and will remain the CM face, Mulayam is the undisputed boss and will remain the boss,” he said. Excerpts:
You have been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever since the family feud started. How would you describe your relationship with Mulayam, Akhilesh, Shivpal and Ram Gopal Yadav?
I am close to both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son, Akhilesh. It won’t be prudent to publicly discuss the emotional connect between us. The late Janeshwar Mishra and I were blunt in recommending Akhilesh’s election from Kannauj, although Mulayam was not keen on bringing him into politics. Again, from my hospital bed, I strongly recommended his appointment as state president in 2011. Akhilesh is a CM, but he is also like a son to me. Positions come and go, but relationships stay forever.
People accuse you of fanning differences in the family. Why are you so important to Mulayam?
This question is not relevant, and has been clarified by none other than Mulayam himself.
The common perception is that you are against Akhilesh…
Akhilesh is Mulayam’s son. How can I be against him? The decision (of installing Akhilesh as CM in 2012) was that of Mulayam and Mulayam alone.
Though he passed the CM’s chair on to him, isn’t the succession line still hazy?
Succession is always for power, right and exercising of that right. Organisation is duty. While right is given to the son, duty can be given to anyone.
What about Ram Gopal Yadav? He has issued statements against you.
He has clarified that his statements were twisted. In this age of visual media, people should be careful while speaking on camera. Mulayam had once told me to “forget it, he is my brother”. His words gave me strength to tolerate his arrogance. I refused to utter a word despite his tirade against me.
The CM says he will not call ‘someone’ uncle. Have you spoken to him since the feud started?
No, I haven’t. But you will soon see us together – it’s just a matter of time. Only Mulayam can bring us together, not Akhilesh.
When nobody is challenging Mulayam’s authority, why has this crisis occurred ahead of the elections?
Look at what happened in Kerala. Pinarayi Vijayan and Achuthanandan were at loggerheads, but the Left still came to power. There is no fight in the Samajwadi Party, just a difference of opinion. But yes, the demonstrations and sloganeering could have been avoided.
Don’t you think the party will suffer in the elections?
I don’t think there can be a better face than that of Akhilesh. But, in an election, you need a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to take forward the clean face. Mulayam and the rest of us are that SPV. Akhilesh will emerge stronger from each and every crisis.
Where are the faultlines, then?
The CM’s throne is full of thorns. He has to establish harmony between the old guard and the new supporters. A little coordination between yesterday and today can defuse the differences.
What role will you play in the elections?
Whatever role my boss assigns to me. I can be the backroom boy, the silent worker or the rabble-rouser. I will be His Master’s Voice.