While Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is currently facing the heat over the disproportionate assets case,it is the Congress that has been the target of a torrent of fire and brimstone. SP general secretary and Mulayam’s long-time defender Amar Singh has been valiantly deflecting salvos against his party’s top man usually redirecting the vitriol straight to the Congress,although others are not exempt. On Monday,a day before Mulayam’s Supreme Court hearing,he fumed: “Just because of a court case,does anyone become corrupt? I may also turn around and say that Sonia Gandhi is corrupt and so is Manmohan Singh.”
Calling the SP-Congress alliance an unhappy marriage,he also added,”If this is what political rivalry means,then we will also reveal facts.”
But this,of course,is just the latest insult to come from a man who is known for his penchant for snappy rejoinders,especially when the more taciturn Mulayam is under attack. A few memorable ‘sound bites’:
A day before the review petition on the disproportionate assets case against Mulayam,Amar Singh,true to style,brought out a list of charges against the Congress. He also targeted UPA ally Lalu Prasad Yadav to illustrate his charge that the CBI’s investigation was dubious”: “I am not saying Lalu Prasad is guilty,but here is an investigating agency which says there is no case against Lalu,even as the Bihar Government files a review petition in the Patna High Court.”
The Samajwadi Party has been threatening withdraw support from the Congress-led UPA if strong action is not taken against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack,but this is by far the only time it has done so. In the wake of the Batla House encounter in September 2008,Amar demanded a probe and suggested that Shivraj Patil should “resign on moral grounds”. He added,”Our party supported the government due to pressure from the minorities to keep the BJP at bay. If the judicial probe proves that those arrested in connection with the serial blasts are innocent,then we will have to rethink on the support to the UPA.”
Incensed that the Congress was paying little heed to the SP’s “political and economic demands”,Amar accused the Congress of adopting a “use and throw” policy. “Our utility for Congress had ended on July 22 itself,when it won the trust vote. It follows a need-based relationship where only numbers matter.” He complained that the Congress “want us to accommodate them in UP,but they are not accommodating us in MP,” adding that the future of the political tie-up would entirely “depend on post polls dynamics.”
He also vented his ire at being termed a “blackmailer” by some Congress leaders,although his famed love-hate relationship with Sonia was still on the warmer side. He conceded that he saw “a ray of hope in Soniaji and Rahul.”
The strains in the newly formed alliance between the Congress and SP did not take long to show,with matters reaching a head when Amar Singh accused the Congress,and specifically AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh of poaching four legislators in Madhya Pradesh. “The Congress party betrayed us by engineering (the) defection. They have not only broken my party,but also my heart,” he said,although he absolved Sonia and Rahul Gandhi of blame.
Women’s groups were up in arms against Amar Singh,when he reportedly remarked,”When Prakash Karat goes to meet Sonia Gandhi,it’s called suhaag raat (wedding night),but when we go to meet Sonia Gandhi,it’s called balaatkaar (rape).” He quickly backtracked,however,and said,”Whatever may be the nature of politics with the Congress and the CPI(M),I hold their leaders in high esteem and would never think of making any derogatory remarks against them.”
Accusing newly elected UP Chief Minister Mayawati of “vendetta politics”,Amar dared her to try and put him and Mulayam in jail. “For the last one year,I have been hounded by Soniaji’s UPA government. My phones have been tapped,my friends have been raided,I have been harassed. If Soniaji could not do anything to me,who is Mayawati?” said the SP leader. He also gave his spin on the outcome of the Assembly polls,asserting that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had been rejected,not Mulayam Singh. “My vote percentage has not gone down,it is the Congress and the BJP which have lost ground. UP is now a two-party state in which there is no Congress and no BJP.”
Accusing the Congress of engineering a conspiracy to trap him by tapping his phones,an embattled Amar announced,”I am not afraid of blackmail and will expose those behind the entire operation¿The whole thing is produced and directed by10 Janpath.” He added that at least 60 tapes involving leaders of parties,including the BJP and Congress,were in the possession of Sonia Gandhi and that he would caution non-Congress ‘targets’.
A dinner party hosted by Sonia ahead of the formation of the UPA Government sent Amar Singh into a veritable spiral,as he lamented that he and his colleagues had felt “discarded and rejected” at the way “cold” they were received. In a BBC interview,he implied that the ruling party would have to pay dearly. Without the SP’s support,he said,”Two historical events would not have taken place. Ms Sonia Gandhi would not have got the opportunity to shun power and attain sainthood,which she claims to acquire now,and Mr Manmohan Singh would not have become the Prime Minister.”
Before the UPA was formed in May 2004,Amar Singh had mostly charitable things to say about Sonia and Rahul,but was not quite so generous regarding the Congress and the SP’s ‘courtship’ with it in UP. “We are too hurt and betrayed to have any faith left in the overtures of Congress leaders. Their obsession with Mayawati and consistent cold-shouldering of SP has definitely added to the bitterness,” he said in an interview with The Times of India. However,he was quick to say he had “high regards” for Sonia Gandhi and was not averse to the possibility of pre-electoral ties.