Expelled BSP leader speaks to RAMENDRA SINGH about falling out with Mayawati & plans for new front.
Naseemuddin Siddiqui, once the BSP’s Muslim face and recently expelled as general secretary, has accused party chief Mayawati of demanding Rs 50 crore from him and released recordings of phone conversations in which she is purportedly heard asking him for money. Mayawati has since said she was only asking him to return party funds for membership drives. Siddiqui, whose expulsion has been followed by the resignation of many BSP leaders, speaks about his plans and the politics of the BSP.
What do you think was the reason for your expulsion?
I have said everything in my press conferences. I don’t want to say anything more unless she [Mayawati] does something first.
You have said you have 150 CDs of Mayawati that you will release.
I have already said I will not act first. I will do something only when she acts first.
What is your next move?
Thousands have left the BSP because of her autocratic decision to expel me. I held a meeting with over 50 former coordinators, ministers, MLAs, MPs and district presidents on May 17 and we decided to form a morcha. I will start a tour across the state to meet more supporters and discuss a name for our front. It will be announced soon but won’t contest elections. It will be like Kanshi Ram’s DS-4 (Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti). We will unite those who believe in Kanshi Ram Sahib’s mission and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ideology but are feeling sidelined. Polls are two years away now; we will decide whether to merge the front into a party or forge an alliance.
Will you take in all those who have left the BSP previously?
I will reach out to all those who had to leave the BSP or were removed. Some have joined other parties, but there are many who are still waiting for the right platform. There are many within the BSP who are being neglected and insulted in the party. Many of these people are in touch with me.
Will any sitting BSP MLAs join you?
You will get to know soon. As of now, I have not talked to anyone.
Will your front aim to damage the BSP?
I don’t want to damage any party. The BSP’s decision makers themselves want to finish the party. I am not needed for that.
The BSP has re-inducted a couple of Muslim leaders since your expulsion and they have accused you of preventing the entry of influential Muslims.
They have only read out whatever they were given. When these people were expelled, they accused Mayawati of asking for crores of rupees. How did I become a barrier? Only she has the power to expel or induct anyone. Everyone knows that not even a leaf flutters in the BSP without her orders.
You were once projected as the BSP’s Muslim face. Do you think the party will get the community’s support now?
Muslims know very well what the BSP chief’s attitude towards towards them is. How many times they were disrespected, people still have those video clips. I kept working to get Muslims into the BSP thinking she will mend her ways some day. Many Muslims joined the BSP because of me while many got angry with me for doing so.
BSP leaders point out that you were excise minister, something a religious Muslim would never appreciate…
No one takes departments in the BSP. They are imposed on them. I had refused the department several times but it was given forcibly. I had clarified this earlier too.
How much importance did leaders like you, who represent particular castes or communities, enjoy in the BSP?
I have never believed in the politics of one caste or one religion. I work for sarva samaj. Leaders are made faces of their communities in the BSP only as a showcase. The remote control remains with only one person. There is one power and one adviser in the BSP. Nothing more.
Who is this adviser?
Everyone knows. I don’t want to repeat what I have said in my press conferences.
Why do people in important posts in the BSP suddenly get sidelined or expelled?
This is part of her nature.
Did you ever think you would get expelled one day after your closeness with the leadership for so long?
No. I never thought she would remove me from the party one day.
Do you think Mayawati will change in any way with the party struggling now?
I don’t think she will change one bit. And neither will the state of the BSP…
You said nothing happens without Mayawati’s nod in the BSP. What about derogatory slogans raised against women family members of BJP leader Dayashankar Singh at a protest you led?
When I reached the site, slogans were already being raised. The state president (Ram Achal Rajbhar), Lalji Verma, Mewalal Gautam all were there and raising slogans. I could not ask who had given them the slogans.
After your expulsion and the exit of several OBC leaders, what base is left with the BSP? In one of the audio clips you released, Mayawati refers to one caste [Jatavs] as voting for the party and making up its members.
Even this one community is the most neglected in the party. Most leaders have been expelled, thousands of them.
So who does the BSP represent now?
The party that has been brought on the ventilator by its own people is not in a condition to safeguard anyone’s interests. Whom can it protect in this condition?
Which party would you prefer to join, the Congress or the Samajwadi Party, when the elections arrive?
I will not take any decision. All our supporters will be consulted. All these options will be part of the discussion.