A couple of days after Shahid Siddiquis interview with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi made headlines,the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Saturday disowned its former MP,stating that he was never a member of the party.
SP national general secretary and spokesman Ram Gopal Yadav issued a statement telling the media not to regard Siddiqui as an SP member.
A former Rajya Sabha MP and editor-in-chief of Nai Duniya,Siddiqui told The Sunday Express that he didnt expect such an over-reaction to the Modi interview in his wildest of dreams. He also accused the SP of having a secret deal with Modi that it was trying to hide.
The SP has been so close to Kalyan Singh,the person responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid,and then the BJP. Modi did not campaign in UP and now they are proposing putting up candidates to divide the Opposition in Gujarat. They are worried that their covert deals may come to the surface. So it is their guilt,making them overreact to my interview. I am not alone in saying this. Several Congressmen have told me this, Siddiqui said.
In the three-page interview to Nai Duniya,Modi had refused to apologise for the post-Godhra riots and said he would prefer to be hanged if found guilty. In an introduction,Siddiqui had clarified that he did not agree with all that the CM had said and promised to come up with an analysis soon.
Siddiqui said today that it was not possible for anyone with a conscience to survive in most of the political parties today. He also felt he was being targeted as he was a Muslim who did not want to behave only as a totem.
Most political parties are family enterprises… Even so-called secular parties are not interested in having Muslims who are nationalists or have a voice of their own. That is why there is no leadership amongst Muslims. These parties only want showpiece Muslims who can help get a caste or communitys votes so the family running the party can be kept comfortable, he added.
Siddiqui had been the SP general secretary and its Rajya Sabha MP when he left for the BSP. After a brief stint in the Rashtriya Lok Dal,on January 8,just before the Assembly elections in the state,Siddiqui had joined the SP. Big hoardings of Siddiquis homecoming had been erected outside the SP office at the time.
Siddiqui said he found it a contradiction in terms when they say I am not with the SP and also talk of expelling me from the party. When I have been with the party and on TV,day and night defending them… no one called me and said I was not fit to be on screen as the SP spokesman.
Involved with the running of Nai Duniya (which was started by his father),Siddiqui said his politics has been very clear and there was no arrangement with the BJP.
Such allegations are rubbish. How does asking Modi tough questions make this a platform? His Hindutva supporters will remain with him. How can Muslims come close to him after this interview?
Siddiqui also claimed that he had striven hard to keep his role as editor-in-chief of an aggressive tabloid and a political person apart. In 1993,when I was with the Congress,I interviewed Mulayam Singh so many times,and told Narasimha Rao that it was as a journalist I was doing that. I was close to Rajiv Gandhi,but I had a critical and vocal view of riots under Congress rule, he said,adding that he had even gone to jail for his aggressive coverage of the state of Muslims.
Sources in the SP said that while the interview had been 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.
Sources said the move against Siddiqui was also a subtle message to Azam Khan on whose initiative he had been inducted. with ENS,Lucknow