Akhilesh Kumar Singh
Last month, Neeraj Shekhar, a Rajya Sabha member representing the Samajwadi Party, quit both the House and the party. He joined BJP the next day. In a conversation with Akhilesh Singh, he defends his switch and also provides an insight into why BJP is attracting a sizeable number of opposition politicians:
You are a socialist. What prompted you to switch to BJP?
There are two major reasons, of which the most important was the groundswell that I could see before and after the Lok Sabha Polls. A groundswell in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. People have reposed faith in the BJP Leadership apparently for the fact that they feel safe and foresee a better future. The SP-BSP alliance looked promising mathematically but the way BJP planned the campaign and the previous government performed, the traditional caste permutations had been diluted to a large extent. Today opposition should open its eyes and accept the ground reality. People of the country trust the Modi-Shah leadership and as a politician I must contribute in strengthening hands of the leadership, which has the majority support.
What was the second reason?
It will be dishonest on my part if I don’t acknowledge the fact that I was extremely upset at the way Samajwadi Party leadership treated me. I was keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls and the party leadership had repeatedly assured me of a nomination from Ballia Lok Sabha seat. I called Akhilesh-ji [Yadav] on April 28 just a day before the last day of nominations, and he abruptly said ticket has been given to someone else. I felt humiliated and took the decision.
In Rajya Sabha, you were a harsh critic of BJP government. Isn’t this opportunism?
Of course I opposed BJP on several occasions in the House. But as a student of politics one must accept the ground reality. Even when I spoke against the government, I sometimes realised about redundancy of opposing the government as our resistance didn’t gel with the ground reality. And the recent verdict ended the contradictions within me. I won’t hesitate in saying that the welfare schemes initiated by the Modi government are impacting the lives of millions who have been marginalised and deprived of benefits for decades.
Isn’t it difficult for you to reconcile BJP’s ideology with your socialist background?
Let me correct you that the ideology of socialism is not different from the ideology of RSS and BJP. Socialist leaders always wanted that the last man in the queue should be the first beneficiary, which is defined by the philosophy of ‘Antyodaya’ propounded by Deen Dayal Upadhyay. The core ideology which drives politicians from all walks is the larger interest of the people and that intent is the biggest binding force. Means can be different but ends are the same. Besides, my father Chandra Shekhar-ji had a great bonding with several RSS and BJP leaders like Rajju Bhaiya and Atal-ji [Vajpayee].
You had a great rapport with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. Yet you quit the party.
I still have a good personal rapport with him. But the issue was about principles and self-respect, which should not be compromised. There are several leaders in SP who are feeling isolated and suffocated with the functioning of the current party leadership. Mulayam Singh-ji founded the Samajwadi Party in 1992, along with several other leaders like Mohan Singh, Janeshwar Mishra, Reoti Raman Singh and Beni Prasad Verma. He always believed in collective leadership. But the way the leadership shift happened in 2012, several leaders were appalled as the party moved towards cult leadership. Since then SP has lost three major polls, two general elections (2014, 2019) and assembly polls (2017).
Today, the entire decision making is centralised and most of the party leaders remain clueless about it. After back-to-back humiliations, the SP leadership is rudderless and relying on ungrounded feedback of a coterie that the party will make a comeback in 2022 assembly polls.
BJP is the biggest party today. What if the party doesn’t respond to your expectations as you are a newcomer?
I have joined BJP with no expectations. The leadership is doing its work for the people and it is good enough for a person like me to feel satisfied. As part of the party, I have to explore a role for myself and associate with the process of nation building. My joining is absolutely unconditional.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
via TOI Blog
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