‘Politics of love and unity alone can defeat BJP’
Ajit Singh, founder president of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), was recently in the news when his statement to the press in Baghpat last week gave rise to speculation that he was taking ‘sanyas’ (renunciation) from politics. Later, however, he clarified that he did not mean that. His son and party vice-president Jayant Chaudhary also made it clear that his father alone would take a call on things related to alliance, seat-sharing for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. In an interview over the phone from Delhi, Singh spoke on a number of issues, saying politics of love and unity alone could defeat the ‘divisive’ BJP.
Are you planning to quit politics?
No, not all. Actually, some media persons asked me whether I will contest the next election, to which I said I was 80 now and it was not necessary for me to contest an election every time. I told them the Lok Sabha polls were still far away and I would take a call when the time came. But they interpreted my statement to mean that I am quitting politics.
Lok Sabha polls may be a bit far away, but there is already keenness in the opposition camp to sew up an anti-BJP grand alliance for 2019.
The political parties have already united against the BJP and this was evident during all the by-polls held in Phupur, Gorakhpur, Kairana and Noorpur in UP. Not only do political parties want a grand alliance, but the people also want the anti-BJP forces to join hands. However, the issues relating to seat-sharing and leadership will be discussed at the appropriate time.
But it is not clear as to who will lead the grand alliance and neither does the opposition have a common candidate to project as the prime ministerial face. Don’t you think this is the opposition’s biggest weakness?
You tell me did we go to people with a common face in the by-polls? See, ours is a parliamentary democracy, not a presidential one. The leaders of opposition parties will sit together and decide on their leader after the elections. As of now, our attention is on the forthcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The Congress is already projecting Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate for 2019?
There is nothing unusual about this. All political parties want their leaders to be the PM. The BSP is projecting Mayawati as the PM face and the TMC wants Mamata Banerjee to be the PM candidate whereas the TRS wants to see their leader as the next prime minister.
Then, how can there be a consensus on one name when so many leaders are nurturing prime ministerial ambitions?
As I said earlier, opposition parties will choose their leader after the elections depending on various things, like which party got how many numbers in the Lok Sabha. That is not a big thing. Such issues have been resolved amicably in the past too.
Do you think the SP-BSP will be able to pull together till the Lok Sabha elections, more so when Mayawati’s political ambitions, many feel, are growing to the extent that it may cause fissures in their friendship?
Why not? At least I have not seen or heard anything going wrong with their alliance. As for Mayawati’s ambitions, there is nothing wrong with that because all leaders have ambitions. The crux is that there is a broad consensus among the parties that defeating the BJP is necessary.
So, you admit that the common glue holding the opposition parties together is the feeling of ousting the BJP at any cost?
Naturally, the opposition always wants to dislodge the ruling party through elections, but it is the voters who decide finally and when it comes to voting, they will certainly vote on the basis of the government’s performance. People are asking as to what happened to the tall promises related to farmers, youth, smart cities, Swachh Bharat, Ganga rejuvenation and the like. But the BJP wants nobody should discuss these. They want discussion on Hindu-Muslim, cow protection, lynching etc.
What role do you see for the RLD in 2019?
We are trying to foster brotherhood and love among farmers, urging them to unite and rise above caste and religion because the BJP has ruined them. I launched a year-long campaign from Muzaffarnagar on February 13 to spread this message to people. The BJP is spreading hate and engineering division in the society to win and I strongly feel that the easiest way to defeat the BJP is by promoting ‘bhai-chara’ (brotherhood) and ‘pyar-mohabbat’ (love) in the society.
It is said that the opposition’s no-trust motion against the Modi government recently backfired. Your take?
Absolutely not. On the contrary, the government was exposed on the floor of the House. The BJP leaders’ gloomy faces in the House that day said it all. The government was not able to respond to any questions including, one on the Rafale deal.
There was a lot of debate on the social media over Rahul Gandhi hugging PM Modi during the debate on the no-confidence motion in Parliament. How do you see the hugging episode?
I do not see anything wrong with Rahul Gandhi taking the initiative to embrace Modi. He was merely conveying the message to Modi that he did not hold anything against him personally. Modi should have reciprocated the goodwill gesture.
Any possibility of the RLD joining hands with the BJP, an old ally?
(Laying emphasis) The question does not arise at all.