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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Of political opportunism and Indo-US Nuclear deal


Shahid Siddiqui, who till the other day, was defending Samajwadi Party, in TV debates, suddenly switched sides and joined Mayawati.

Call it opportunism but this is politics. Coming from Shahid Siddiqui, it shouldn't be a bit of surprise. Siddiqui, the editor of the fiery Nai Dunia Urdu weekly, was always more a politician, less a journalist.

Not many remember that in the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition when Muslims were angry with Congress and Arjun Singh had left the party, the same Shahid Siddiqui was the head of the Propaganda and Publicity Cell of the Congress. It was unimaginable but not many knew it even then and he continued befooling everybody, right from his readers to the electorate.

That's why he wouldn't have given a thought to it once how readers of Nai Dunia will digest it all of a sudden. After all, the paper that was pro-Samajwadi Party for almost a decade, will now have to take a different position.

In the last issue, when the paper had published a poll that 70% Indian Muslims were against the deal, most of us were surprised. Whatever may be the mood of the Indian Muslims, I was certain that it was a desktop poll. Khair.

He owns a newspaper that has a fair circulation but is on the decline due to the editor's interest in politics rather than paper. He needs a Rajya Sabha seat, which Mayawati may have promised her.

In the past, many Muslim leaders from Arif Mohammad Khan to Akbar Ahmad Dumpy and Rashid Alvi to poet Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad, joined the BSP. But none could stay there for long.

Just like SP that centres around Mulayam Singh Yadav's personality, BSP is also one-woman show. But Behenji hardly gives the space, which even second rung leaders in other parties get.

Siddiqui now says that Mayawati's Dalit vote is transferable. He says that for a Muslim candidate of BSP, the Dalits enthusiastically vote while the Yadavas don't vote for the Muslim candidate of SP.

It is true to only some extent. But the reality is that Yadavas constitute barely 7% of UP's population while Dalits are now 21%. Muslims account for 19% and most of them went with SP or the winning Muslim candidate. The fact is that Siddiqui succeeded in making a noise though he doesn't even have a vote (he is a Rajya Sabha member).
Meanwhile, SP has its own set of problems. It arose out of anti-Congressism but its core constituency are Muslims and thus can't align with BJP. When it thwarted Congress' bid to form government at centre, it was alleged that Mulayam had a secret deal with BJP.

Even with nearly 40 MPs, the party has failed to wield any influence on national politics. However, Mulayam should have realised that when they failed to get any mileage during the first four years of this government, they should have taken the lead in opposing it.

Now if the government falls, Mulayam Singh will get nothing. In case it survives, Amar Singh and Anil Ambani will be the chief beneficiaries. Whatever, it's unfortunate for Indian politics that opportunism has become order of the day and horse-trading is on.

Ajit Singh has got the Lucknow airport named after his father, but now needs more, perhaps the Food Ministery. Devegowda and his son, Chautala, Omar Abdullah, Shibu Soren and every other guy with a vote in Lok Sabha, is being sought after.

And this drama will go on for another two days.