After the Samajwadi Party’s exit from the grand alliance, party general secretary Kiranmoy Nanda, MP, has helped forge a tie-up with the NCP and been negotiating with other possible allies. Back from Patna, he discusses SP strategies in this interview.
What went wrong with the grand alliance?
They gave the Congress 40 seats. There is a wrong perception that we walked out because they did not give us enough seats. Who are they to give seats? Seats do not belong to anybody yet. This was supposed to be the election that the reunited Janata Parivar would fight together.
They betrayed Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) by removing his picture from the stage at the Patna rally. The very genesis of the Janata Parivar was in anti-Congressism. How can we then go with the Congress? It was never about seats. There was never any room for the Congress…
Your opponents say you walked out with the ulterior motive of benefiting the BJP.
That is a strange allegation given that the primary constituents of that alliance have in the past shared a more than cosy relationship with RSS-BJP. Lalu Yadav had praised the RSS , he had taken the support of BJP MLAs to become chief minister. Nitish has been in alliance with them for seven years. We are the only ones who have consistently opposed the BJP. Besides there is no sense for us to be supporting the BJP covertly or overtly because in 2017 in Uttar Pradesh, it will be a direct face-off between the SP and the BJP.
How is your new alliance in Bihar shaping up?
We are talking to everybody. There are several very powerful caste groups who have expressed their willingness to be with us and the NCP. I had talks with many sections and political groups during my stay. (Former minister) Nagmani’s party wants to come with us, there is a party from the Nishad Samaj and one representing Savarns with whom we are looking at possible alliances. There are also some groups from the Kuswaha Samaj and Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party that we are talking to. Former Speaker Purno Sangma’s National People’s Party is already on board…. The Left will fight on its own.
How many seats will you fight?
It is still too early. We have to finalise the alliances first and then talk seats. After all there are only 243 seats from which we all have to share. Our campaign will start on September 22 at Sri Krishna Memorial Hall in Patna where Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav will address party workers and also workers of all our alliance partners. I will soon invite Sangmaji to be present.
Realistically, how do you rate your chances?
It is very clear that the third front is the most competent force to win this election. People have seen the BJP at the Centre for 16 months, and they have seen Nitish-Lalu in the state for decades. We are untested and ours is a broad-based coalition across the social spectrum. This is what we will go out and tell the electorate.