Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday issued an apology for associating with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
The tie-up with Singh — who was Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the Babri masjid was demolished in December 1992 — is widely perceived to be the reason for the erosion of the SP’s support base among Muslims, who constitute 17 per cent of the state’s electorate.
Yadav’s admission, however, earned him the censure of his rivals. While Singh called him an “opportunist”, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and chief minister Mayawati said the SP leader was a “communalist” people no longer trusted.
"It was a big mistake to have joined hands with Kalyan Singh and I apologise to Muslims for doing so,” Yadav said in Lucknow. “I wish to assure them that I will never repeat such a mistake in the future and will have nothing whatsoever to do with those responsible for the demolition of the Babri mosque."
Singh shot back: "Yadav is a communalist and has made this statement for his selfish motives. He took advantage of me. In the last Lok Sabha elections, he was going to win only 11 seats. But I helped him secure 23.”
Mayawati, whose party has significant Muslim support, said Yadav had a "long track record of hobnobbing with communal forces" and had become CM for the first time in 1977 with the help of such forces.
The SP had won 23 seats in the 2009 elections, down 14 seats from the 37 it won in 2004. Many Muslim voters had preferred to vote for the BSP and the Congress instead.