The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Saturday disowned former MP Shahid Siddiqui,stating that he was never a member of the party. The announcement,in a statement issued by SP national general secretary and spokesman Ram Gopal Yadav,came a couple of days after Siddiquis interview with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi made headlines.
Siddiqui had joined the SP on January 8 this year,just ahead of the Assembly elections,in the presence of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav,state president and present UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and senior leader and present state Cabinet minister Azam Khan after quitting the RLD. Another RLD leader,Anuradha Choudhary,too had joined the party at the same function. Big hoardings of Siddiquis homecoming were erected outside the SP office as he had been a party Rajya Sabha MP between 2002 and 2008.
Siddiqui,the editor of Urdu weekly Nai Duniya,had interviewed Modi in which the Gujarat Chief Minister had refused to apologise for the post-Godhra riots and instead said he would prefer to be hanged if found guilty.
Seen as an image makeover exercise,Modi had said in the interview,If my government had done this (post-Godhra riots),I should be hanged in public in such a way that it remains a lesson for the next 100 years so that nobody dares to do it (such a crime).
Sources,however,say that though the interview was the proverbial last straw,the chill had already set in when Siddiqui went ahead and met Congress leaders in Delhi ahead of the Presidential election,saying that the SP was in favour of another term for A P J Abdul Kalam. Though Ram Gopal Yadav took the matter seriously,any move to act against Siddiqui was shelved for some opportune time.
After the interview,the sources said,stage was set on Friday when the SP spokesman issued gag orders that besides him only Mulayam,Akhilesh and Rajendra Choudhary were authorised to speak to the media. Siddiquis ouster,however,was not made public as it would have sent the signal that the gag order was exclusively meant for him.
The sources said the move was also a subtle message to Azam Khan on whose initiative Siddiqui was inducted into the SP. There have been reports of difference of opinion between Khan and the party leadership on some issues.
Siddiqui,in the introduction to the interview with Modi,had said he did not agree with all that Modi had said and that he would come up with an analysis of the replies. I dont at all agree with arguments put forth by Modi (in the interview) and I am not satisfied with many of his answers,but reproduced the replies verbatim to apprise you of Modis thought and psyche. Will come up with my own analysis of the interview next week, he wrote.
Gujarat BJP vice-president I K Jadeja said nothing that was said and printed in the interview was wrong. Some people do not like it if something good is said about Modi linking him with a positive thing, he said.
Responding to SP chiefs decision to disown Siddiqui,Jadeja said,People have different scales for themselves and for others.
(With ENS Ahmedabad,Delhi)