In coversation with TRIDIB RAMAN
India’s most maverick, self exiled former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh speaks to Tridib Raman, Editor-Parliamentarian, in an explosive and exclusive interview. He talks candidly about success, failure, treachery and break ups with some of most powerful and glamorous personalities.
Are you still active in politics?
I am neither too active nor inactive. I am active to the extent that if I am asked, I give my candid opinion. If I am not questioned, I am not desperate to give my opinion. As the saying goes, ’Sajni Hamhi Rajkumar Hain’(I am the sole prince). Life reaches a point of saturation and this state of saturation develops into a sense of detachment.
Does this suggest that you are inclined towards spirituality now?
No, it is not so. When a person reaches a level of satisfaction, then neither his past haunts him nor does the future excite, rather it’s best to struggle with the present. I do not want to listen to stories of my past, about what I did or not did, the past has departed and I do not intend to think about the future. If I think of that, I will have expectations. So now I am competing with myself.
It is possible for people to differ or agree with Amar Singh, but they cannot deny you completely. What makes you so indispensible?
Consider the legend of Rama in the ‘Treta Yug’, throughout his life he did nothing unethical other than killing Bali. Similarly, during the ‘Dwapara’ age, Krishna never deceived anyone. Both were considered divine. Ram followed the traditions of the Treta Yug and was revered in that age, while Krishna followed the culture of the Dwapara age and was considered the God of that age.
Similarly, in my view, success has many fathers and failures are always bastards. Kaliyug does not give any value to morals and failures. In Kaliyug success is everything. For instance, a lot of people talk behind Rajiv Shukla’s back but when they meet him in person, they show regard. It is not a matter of what he was or how or what happened. The present prevails, so the mantra in this Kaliyug is to hail this miracle.
Life reaches a point of saturation and this state of saturation develops into a sense of detachment.
Do you think that in today’s politics there is a need to maintain the purity of ways and means otherwise victory becomes an end in itself?
It is wrong to believe that ways are not important and means are everything. However, I would like to mention here that I was very close to Chandrashekhar ji, and one day I was there with him, Arun Nehru and Ramdhan ji. Then VP Singh came in and we were discussing the politics of the day, the rising cost of politics and how corrupt it had become, that to sustain oneself in politics, investment in industry or business had become essential.
VP Singh claimed he had always kept away from these things and as finance minister, never met anyone alone, he always met people in the presence of an official. Chandrasekhar ji, who was lying on the floor (this was at his official residence in South Block), said with a yawn that, yes VP was very honest and to match up to his honesty we followed.
But my point is that whether it is the election of the American President, Bill Clinton or Hillary, it is not possible without a Sant Singh Chatwal. Even for Gandhi’s campaign, Jamnalal Bajaj or Birla were needed. Whether it was the JP movement or Lohiya’s, they also required a capitalist like Bal Krishna Gupta. Raj Narayan considered Mohan Meakin’shelp necessary, his socialism needed it.
What has politics given you?
Politics has shown me life. The legends and stories of great men that we heard and read about during our growing years became a reality through politics. I grew up in Bengal, and it is said that whatever Bengal says today, the rest of the nation says tomorrow. Whether it is our national anthem or the remarriage of widows, it came from Bengal.
In fact, it was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who taught us to venerate Mathura born Lord Krishna. Ramkrishna Paramhans or Vivekananda, they are all gifts of Bengal. Even though Vivekananda died young, his philosophy is still relevant. No one can match the revolutionary spirit of Netaji or Khudiram Bose.
I may originally belong to Uttar Pradesh but my culture is Bengali. Once Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was told that someone was criticizing him behind his back. Vidyasagar laughed and replied: “It is not possible that some day or the other I have not done any good to him”.
It was a riddle to me and I never understood it until I had grown up. This was when I came across the phrase, ‘Neki kar Dariya mein daal’ (Do good and forget it). Politics taught me the real meaning of those words; do not ask for loyalty in this selfish world.
In Kaliyug, success is everything. For instance, a lot of people talk behind Rajiv Shukla’s back but when they meet him in person, they show regard.
‘Yeh wo Shai hai jo bani jahan ke liye, Na tu jamin ke liye hai na tu aasman ke liye, tera wajood to hai sirf dastan ke liye’. I recall a poem of Gopal Das Neeraj, ‘Kya hai karishma kaisa khilwad hai, jaanwar aadmi se jyada wafadaar hai. Aadmi maal jiska khata hai, pyaar jiska paata hai, uske hi seene mein bhonkta kataar hai.’ Politics taught me this,’ Arre bhai zara dekh ke chalo, aage he nahin peeche bhi’. Be vigilant.
You became popular after you were nominated to Rajya Sabha on SP’s quota in 1996. How did you have associated with Birla and what got you close to Madhavrao Scindia?
My political career began when Naxalism was at its peak in Bengal. Siddhartha Shankar Ray, who was grandson of Deshbandhu Chitranjan Das, was confidante of Indira Gandhi. Siddhartha babu used to call Indira ji as ‘Indu’ and she called him by his pet name ‘Manu’. If you happen to read his letters, there is mention of internal affairs of Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka, who had just begun meeting at that time.
There were big leaders when Congress was divided like Atulya Ghosh, Kamaraj Nijalingappa and others. When syndicate and ‘Indicate’ was made during President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy’s elections and later in Delhi elections, then Vijay Singh Nahar from Bengal was close to Jagjivan Ram, and he supported Indira Gandhi. But later, Indira Gandhi side lined him as he was associated with her through Jagjivan Ram. While, Siddhartha babu was directly known to Indira ji.
Therefore, Siddhartha babu was sent to Bengal to stop Naxal movement and a special ministry was setup in the centre as cabinet minister in charge of West Bengal affairs. You are aware that Naxalbari was a village in Bengal and Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal belonged to this village. The back yard of Kolkata Presidency College, Coffee house at the College Street and narrow Bhawani Dutt Lane used to be meeting place of naxal leaders. Renowned novel, ‘Hazaar chaurasi ki maa’ written by Mahashweta Devi describes in detail about this.
I have seen that era from close quarters. Naxal leaders were in close contact with me. Since I was educated in Kolkata, I often met these leaders in Bhawani Dutt lane. Most of the intelligentsia of Presidency College were part of Naxalite movement. They nurtured a burning zeal to change the society. There might have been a deviation, but their determination cannot be challenged. Siddhartha babu chose two people to take up this challenge; Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and Subrata Mukherjee.
I worked very closely with these two people and Subrata Mukherjee was my first political guru, in fact, he is Mamata Banerjee’s political guru as well. Mamata may find it difficult to agree on this today, the same Subrata da is a minister in her government, which is all but destiny. Mamata was junior to us and we have worked together.
I still remember an incident, when Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi was in the Congress, and Subrata da ran a student organization, ‘Chhatra Parishad’ with the help of Kumud Bhattacharya and Sudip Bandyopadhyay. And we youngsters raised a slogan,’Priya, Subrata, Kumud, Sudip, Inhone jalaya aandolan ka deep’.
I began my political career began with Subrata Mukherjee. I still remember, he had a Fiat car, when he became home minister in Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s ministry, its number was WNC 5 and he had a bodyguard called Singh. Mamata never sat with us; she always sat next to the driver. She used to be INTC leader during that time.
When she got the ticket, me, Pranab Mukherjee and Subrata Mukherjee were sitting at 2 Jantar Mantar road and no was ready to fight against Somnath Chatterjee. I still remember, when Pranab da told in Bengali that he needed a candidate against Somnath da. He said, if Subrata da can suggest some one’s name, else, the seat can be given to a woman candidate, so that women’s quota can be filled and otherwise also it was a losing seat. Subrata da proposed Mamata’s name.
It was more than enough for Mamata that Subrata da had proposed her name. At the same time a historic comment had been made by Jyoti Basu, ‘Indira Gandhi dead is more dangerous than Indira Gandhi alive’. Since the martyrdom of Indira Gandhi, election situation so developed that even Somnath da lost elections. On that day Anand Bazar Patrika made a headline, ‘Crowd throng to watch Mamata’. I would say about Mamata that she still lives in two-room house near Kalighat.
You will surprise to know that till then Mamata had not seen Delhi. When she came to Delhi for the first time as MP, her stay was arranged at Janpath Hotel. I went to airport to bring her; there were no mobile phones during those days, only few landlines. So she came to my residence every night to speak to her mother.
Mamata had not seen Delhi. When she came to Delhi for the first time as MP, her stay was arranged at Janpath Hotel. I went to airport to bring her
Since she had defeated political heavyweight like Somnath Chatterjee, Rajiv Gandhi took her cognizance and she was transformed into real Mamata. Rajiv Gandhi promoted her in politics and she had due respect for Rajiv ji, I am sure she has that regard for him even now.
How did Mamata Banerjee’s journey reach the Saradha scam? Do you think Mamata has made some grave mistake?
I can still say that Mamata or for that matter Mulayam Singh are not greedy people. But their politics is not intelligent politics. Whether Mamata or Mulayam their politics is one of expression not of learning. Their politics is one of persistence, of struggle about issues, the politics of hard work. Their politics is not based on strategies made in drawing rooms. Kejriwal, Mamata or Mulayam are unrivalled in opposition but they are generally unsuccessful in power.
How did you meet Krishna Kumar Birla and Madhavrao Scindia?
I have a friend Shyam Bhartiya. He is the husband of the owner of the Hindustan Times, Shobhanaji. He was the one who brought me to Delhi and made me stay at his home in C 3 Maharani Bagh. I was married at their home. More than parents, they made elaborate arrangements for my marriage. Shobhana ji is the youngest daughter of Krishna Kumar Birla, who had two other daughters both are in Kolkata.
Birla ji spent most of his time in Delhi that is how I got to meet him. He is the first celebrity whom I came to know in public life. There is a popular view that I worked for him, which is completely wrong. But he did make me Director in the Govind Sugar Mill and the Hindustan Times Board.
Madhavrao Scindia was in the Jan Sangh in those days. He was a friend of one of my uncle’s. There was also Dinesh Singh from Doon School, who was a Jan Sangh MP. I met Madhavrao through them. I in turn introduced Madhavrao to Shobhana ji. Soon Shyam and Shobhana ji, Madhav ji and myself became a group. We spent our summer vacations together in London or Vienna. But my association with Madhav ji was more social than political.
What is it about you that whether it is Bill Clinton, Tony Blair or King Zayed, everyone becomes your good friend?
Every well known personality, be it Mulayam Singh or Amitabh Bachchan or Birlaji and let’s not forget Dhirubhai Ambani, every celebrated personality seeks a person whom he can confide in. Perhaps I came across as one such, receptive (like blotting paper) friend to them. History speaks about Bhat and Charan, in fact any public figure is lonely and seeks an opportunity to share his/her loneliness.
You might have given unconditional support to your friends but many of them have back stabbed you?
Whatever I did for Mulayam Singh or Amitabh Bachchan, I did for selfish reasons, in the manner we do for our children, we do it for our satisfaction. I built personal and emotional relationships with people, which was wrong. In my 59th year (turned 59 on Jan 27), I realized there is no better friend in the world than your better half. All other relationships are artificial and turgid. There’s a saying in English ‘help the needy, not the greedy’.
If you help Anil Ambani, it will not be registered. Similarly, if you help Amitabh Bachchan, it won’t affect his health as he is so well known. Celebrities feel that by taking your help, they have given you an opportunity, as if you should feel honoured because they chose you to help them.
How did you feel when Amitabh Bachchan no longer acknowledges you as a friend or when Anil Ambani does not take your phone call?
Not accepting a phone call from someone is an honest thing. It should not be taken otherwise, that due to fear someone is not taking your call. Everyone’s spirit cannot be as brave as mine can. Still, not accepting my call is disturbing. Amitabh Bachchan never said that he is not grateful to me or that I am not his friend. I stood with Amitabh in his tough times but they all vanished during my troubles. I am not bothered by the fact that I had helped him. Someone rightly said, ‘Kaun rota hai yahan kisi aur ki khatir, Ae Dost, sabko aapni hi kisi baat pe rona aaya’.
But whether it’s the crores worth of debt to Doordarshan and saving ABCL, you always helped Amitabh Bachchan?
I would not like to speak about this. I have never helped him, since his troubles were also mine. I addressed my troubles during that time.
You had said somewhere that it was Amitabh Bachchan’s style, whether it was about changing his attire according to his fashion or changing friends according to his convenience.
This is true. Nevertheless, when you are in love or are devoted to someone, you cannot find fault. These are not my words. When he had gone to Mumbai he had no place to stay. It was Mahmood who asked him to stay at his home and it was Mahmood who gave him the lead role in his film Bombay to Goa. Later Amitabh parted ways with Mahmood. He grew very close to Amjad Khan and separated from him too.
Then he outgrew his friendship with Nadiadwala, Prakash Mehra whose film Zanjeer made him superstar, he could not keep that relationship either. The differences that began during the making of Jadugar and Toofan ruined his relationship with Manmohan Desai. Shashi Kapoor used to be his close friend but they parted ways after Ajooba. The Gandhi family was more like his own family, Sonia Gandhi used to stay at his Mumbai and London residences, but their relationship fell apart.
I would like to reveal here that I introduced him to Modi for the first time to ensure his film Pa got tax-free status. I introduced him to the left wing Brinda Karat and extreme rightist Narendra Modi. During that meeting, Modi proposed that Bachchan be Gujarat’s brand ambassador. Amitabh sought my opinion and I told him that the Lions of Gir and the temples of Dwarka do not understand caste.
I told him that even if Mayawati requests you to promote the TajMahal and if you have time, there should not be any problem. When the Congress assaulted him and we all gathered in the premises of Symbiosis, it was our last public appearance together.
In that meeting, I openly said in public that it was Harivansh Rai Bachchan who wrote, ‘Bair badhate Mandir-Masjid, Mel karati Madhushala’, how can the son of man of such liberal stature be branded communal. Gujarat’s Lion knows no community; Dwarka’s Dwarkadheesh has no caste. He is promoting Gujarat tourism not the deeds of Narendra Modi.
But when Modi invited him after becoming Prime Minister, he did not go. He kept his distance. And now you see Modi’s broom is in his and Abhishek’s hand and the Samajwadi party has made Jaya Bachchan supervisor of Varanasi, to sweep over the politics of Narendra Modi.
She is the same Jaya Bachchan whom you brought to the Rajya Sabha after overcoming all resistance. But when you were being thrown out of the party, Jaya never said anything in your support.
No, she did speak but in favour of those involved in my elimination. She called me to her residence, insulted me and told me that I was wrong. She issued public statements against me. The Bachchan family had my name printed on every family invitation, the marriage of their children, and the rites of their ancestors.
But when they had to choose between politics and brother, they chose politics over brother. Amitabh acts in a movie like Baghban and feels the hurt when family members part ways. But in real life he seems to act like the character of devastating, you can understand how painful it is.
You raked up the issue of Sonia Gandhi and the National Advisory Council when Jaya Bachchan quit over the office of profit controversy?
That was my foolishness. I will only say,’ Yehi pyaar ki aabru ki main wafa karoon, woh jafa karen. Yeh wafa bhi kaam na aa sake toh koi bataye ki hum kya karen’.
Now, if we talk about Akhilesh Yadav, when son and father were not on talking terms, you were the bridge between the two.
I do not want to criticise Chief Minister Akhilesh because as an individual, he is like my son. However, I feel bad when he goes around saying that Narendra Modi is removing all our posters in Gujarat. Until the other night, he was busy watching Jacqueline Fernandez and Hrithik Roshan dance. All the chief ministers, even those of the so called secular Congress-ruled states had arrived for the (Pravasi Bharatiya/Vibrant Gujarat) summit.
NRIs from all over the world had come to invest. Oommen Chandy was present. Congress chief ministers, who show pathological hatred towards the BJP, did not want to miss the opportunity. Akhilesh could have arrived a day earlier, he could have skipped watching Jacqueline’s dance. Hrithik Roshan’s flight left Saifai but Akhilesh’s flight did not take off, who can believe this?
But you are the one who initiated the Saifai Mahotsav, you are the one who got Mulayam Singh addicted to film stars.
Yes and Ramgopal Yadav had me removed from the party on that ground. As someone who lives with cine stars, who promotes industrialist and capitalists, corrupt Amar Singh is being expelled from the Samajwadi Party. I am corrupt as I brought cine stars. I am corrupt because according to the late Janeshwar Mishra, I brought SP under the legs of Shilpa Shetty. I accept I am corrupt as it was because of me that Samajwadi spread from Shilpa Shetty’s legs to Jacqueline’s body and then Mallika Sehrawat’s wet lips.
But now that Amar Singh is no more, why is that continuing?I have not ever been blamed of any financial corruption or even dishonesty. Those who lay blame on me forget that before me they had brought Raj Babbar here. When he earned his notoriety for act of raping Padmini Kolhapuri in the film Insaaf Ka Taraju, he was involved in lighting the lamps for Samajwadi Party.
Did I have the industrialists? Prior to me, Sanjay Dalmia was already made the member of Rajya Sabha, who was son of VHP’s President Vishnuhari Dalmia. Despite him being VHP’s son and an industrialist, he was made the Rajya Sabha MP and party treasurer before me. I am not against cinema people. I have many friends in film fraternity.
It was the anti-cinema lobby of Ram Gopal Yadavji, the late Mohan Singh ji and the late Janeshwar ji that conspired against me. I am not against stars performing at the Safai show. All I am saying is how the show became a conspiracy to throw me out of the party. I want to ask Ramgopal, who is the next to be done away with?
Are we going to see Amar Singh acting in movies?
I have done films. I did Bombay Mittayi film in Malayalam. When I was young, Dimple Kapadia of Bobby was my favourite heroine like any other youth of that era. She acted as my wife in a Malayalam film. I have also performed in Satish Kaushik’s Hamara Dil Aapke Paas hai. I acted with Aishwarya in that movie. This is before she became daughter-in-law to the Bachchans. I also acted in Anil Sharma’s Apne with Dharmendra, Sunny and Bobby Deol. I worked in DevAnand’s last film ‘Charge sheet’, he was my childhood favourite.
Amar Singh accepts all kind of gifts, but when Raj Babbar sent you bouquet once, you could only count the thorns in it.
‘Woh phool hi kya jinme katen na hon’. Life without scorching noon (troubled times) and peaceful evening, is not worth it. He did send me a bouquet and I accepted it and said that ‘it has flowers as well as thorns’. Those thorns are a reminder of bitter memories; the flowers signify the truths of today.
How is your health?
I am not too well. But if my health is bad, I have to accept it. Both my kidneys are transplanted. I lost my kidneys due to the surgery on my intestines. A Delhi based doctor wrongly diagnosed cancer and operated out both my intestines. Whatever I ate came out without being digested. Soon, due to the absence of proteins and essential vitamins, I became extremely weak. Just as you take your vehicle to the garage for repair, I take my body to a hospital in Singapore every three months. They diagnose the problem, whether I am lacking manganese or iron. All that is lacking is injected from outside, I emerge revamped, the way a vehicle looks when it comes out of the garage.
While on a Dubai flight, did your sugar levels drop so low that you went into a coma?
I have come close to death three times. When both my kidneys were gone, I almost died. Once, when I went into a coma it took 3-4 days to come out of it. It was the kind of situation that Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi is in today. While campaigning in Jhansi, I fell down from a helicopter. But I feel Yama raj (God of death) is not yet ready to accept me. Just imagine, falling from a flying helicopter into a mud pond without any fracture or injury. I have seen death very closely.
Did this change your attitude towards life?
Yes, it did change my outlook towards life. I believe in astrology and go to the same astrologer, Nathulal, to whom Smriti Irani goes. I was told I was under the influence of ‘Shani sadhe saati’. Shani troubles you and it is my lead star. I am of the opinion that moving gradually is ‘Shani’(Saturn). Today’s problems contrast with how bright and sunny life was from 1996 to 2009, there was no dusk, life was continuously ascending, no descent. But Nature tells us that every dawn has dusk, it is we who do not understand the clues of Nature.
There are two kinds of journeys that an individual makes, an external one and the other is internal. Has your internal journey been left out somewhere?
Obviously I am left out. When there is chaos in life, there is a crowd around you, selfish people hover around you and this seems to be the only reality. Mulayam Singh chose my birthday January 27, to expel me from the Samajwadi party. What kind of a birthday gift was that? Something more serious happened when I tried to talk to Mulayamji about the Noida scam, to tell him that he should do something about it.
I also warned him about Ashok Chaturvedi’s role in the land use issue and that he should not allow CLU. Chaturvedi was then a non-bailable accused along with NiraYadav. Akhilesh Yadav, prior to becoming CM, went to see him in jail but no one bothered to see me when I was in hospital. No one came to pacify my crying children.
After your expulsion, you said you are not a ‘Samajwadi’, but a ‘Mulayamwadi’.
Yes, that is true.
Was Azam Khan your main opponent?
No, Azam Khan was never a foe. He was himself a victim of Ramgopal like me. Azam Khan knows very well that I supported Jaya Prada as the candidate from Rampur. It is Azam Khan who was responsible for bringing Jaya Prada to Rampur, getting her a ticket and ensuring she contested from there. Yes, I supported her. But whether it’s Jaya Prada or Noor Bano in Rampur, Azam Khan cannot see anyone other than himself evolving.
There is a Bangla song by Hemant Kumar, ‘Khirki theke singhoduar aye tumader pritibi’It means, hey king your world is limited from the window of your kingdom to its gate. You are not aware of the world beyond this. Similar is the case with Azam Khan. He is not aware of the world outside Rampur and Gauhar.
You have made expensive gifts and even a car to Abhishek Bachchan?
Yes, I did. I had promised him that whenever I liked his work, I would gift him whatever he wants. I liked his acting in ‘Guru’, so I gifted him. But what I got in return was very hurtful. During one of our holidays in Goa, Jaya Bachchan told me, “Amarji the way you help others, don’t expect back from them or even from me, because your ways are unusual.” Jayaji had also told me that, “I am an opportunist, I am selfish and I will only take from you.” Therefore, look what happens to one who gives. People pluck the tree that gives fruit and then burn its wood for fire and leave the ashes in the farm.
You must have a long list of people you consider ungrateful, if you have to name a few, who would they be?
I would not like to call anyone ungrateful. Since they have at least given me something, it would be betrayal. But I recall when I was battling for life, I had drawn up a will making Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Ambani custodians of my daughters. God kept me alive and I changed that will. But if something had happened to me, I just wonder what would have been the fate of my children. I am happy that with the grace of God everything is peaceful. All accusations against me have been proved wrong. I have been legally cleared of every charge.
What does friendship mean to you?
If you remember Kharag Singh’s story ‘Baba Bharti Ka Ghora’, some people-turned-friends took away his horse. He said, ‘you can take it but never tell anyone the real story, otherwise people will stop believing you’. I have one pain in life that after reading my life story people should not learn not to do good for others. If you make nuclear deals at the behest of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, they tend to take pleasure in their power. Advaniji and Arun Jaitley did not send me to jail; in fact, it was the UPA government rather the Congress government, which sent me to jail. They sent me to jail when I had helped save their government.
I am telling this for the first time, that when I was admitted to AIIMS, Chidambaram then Union Home Minister had ordered my brain mapping so I could be termed mad if in the future I said anything against them. Some doctors told me that a lie detector test or brain mapping cannot be done without the patient’s permission. They said I should decline if it was suggested to me. This was the award given for whatever role I played with Muyalam Singh in the nuclear deal. They say a king, fire and water have reverse customs, I say some learn from idioms, I learn after stumbling.
You had a solution for everything but you could never find the keys to 10 Janpath?
Not me alone, nor could find the keys to 10 Janpath. I recall the Haridas Mundhra incident when Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister and his son-in-law Feroze Gandhi took up the issue. It resulted in the removal of T TKarmachari. Nehru’s friendship with Krishna Menon was well known and he was given a bungalow near Teen Murti so Nehru could meet him at his convenience.
Nevertheless, he was blamed for the India China war defeat of 1962 and cast aside. As defence minister, when Madhav Singh Solanki gave the Bofors papers to Sweden’s head of state and was caught, he had to be sacrificed. When Natwar Singh was named in the Volker Report, he was thrown out.
I was certainly useful, I often had talks with Sonia ji and other Congress people. I became useless to them when their work was done; the government was formed and stayed on for five years. On my signal, Sonia made Mohammed Adeeb, a member of the Rajya Sabha, later Mulayam Singh called up Ahmad Patel with the request that I be sent to the Rajya Sabha.
But I got a call from the Congress high command that the UP unit was not ready to accept me. It is the Congress party’s policy to use and throw. Amar Singh who helped Mohammed Adeeb’s entry into the Rajya Sabha had to be stopped because by then Amar Singh was neither relevant nor any more useful to the Congress.
But you were in seventh heaven. You had said that when people like DP Yadav could get into the Rajya Sabha, entry there was no big deal.
The Rajya Sabha is a big thing and not a very big thing. The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are platforms where only the few can reach. However, in the current situation it is not a big thing as I have understood having been a member for 18 years (in Rajya Sabha). I know pretty well what happens there. In the village they say, ‘Manwa Agha Gayeelba’. There’s a feeling of renunciation. The heart says, ‘Chah Mitee, Chinta ghati, manwa beparwah’. I do not want anything now.
Is Amar Singh inclining towards spirituality?
Not at all. I am a soul like Janak, I would never miss an opportunity. Nor would I show any greed, nor depart. The day I become spiritual I will stop giving interviews to you. That day I will meet you in Badrinath, Kedarnath or Mathura. I will tell you something in our Purabibhasha, ‘Mehraru na laika, Chali Dwarika’. In my 59th year, just one short of turning senior citizen, don’t expect me to run behind a BJP leader asking for a position. Nor will I go Rahul Gandhi, Bhanwar Jitendra Singh or Madhusudan Mistry’s garage, asking him to repair me. It won’t look good. God has given me enough.
I would like to retain those memories, secure my present, maintain the sanctity of my character, those are my only goals. It does not mean I have given up or am disheartened. It simply means that if I were given an opportunity, I would certainly take it up but would not like to chase anyone for such a prospect.
Do you think you failed in assessing Narendra Modi?
No, I did not.
After the Gujarat riots of 2002, you had gone to Ahmedabad with Raj Babbar, Shabana Azmi and Sitharam Yechury and made a big hue and cry that Narendra Modi had telephoned you to say that you were not safe here.
Yes, I said so. Just like you talk of ‘cold wave’ during winters and the ‘lu’ during summers. Modi’s stand belonged to that time. In fact, Atalji too reminded him in Goa that he should live up to his role. One person who strongly supported Modiji was Lal Krishna Advani. Now, you see Modi and Advani are poles apart. Therefore, a person should not be judged only on the basis of his past.
Before the 2014 elections, you had said in an interview that no government at the centre could be formed without support from the Congress.
That was the first time my assessment was proved wrong. It was the first time Muslims failed as a vote bank, the significance of that ended. For the first time an 18-year-old voter came out to cast his ballot and dreamt. He was no more Yadav, nor Brahmin, nor Kashtriya, Kurmi, Backward or Dalit. Modi ji’s politics is of neither ‘Mandal’ nor ‘Kamandal’, nor BJP. That is how he openly criticised the statement of Niranjan Jyoti and put a ban on the ‘ghar wapsi movement. In Benares the slogan was ‘ Har-Har Modi, Ghar-Ghar Modi’, it was for Modi not the BJP.
How do you see the unification of the Janata Parivar?
It is nothing. How can Mulayam criticise Sakshi Maharaj, he was sent to the Rajya Sabha on the SP’s quota. He was used for votes. If they target Sakshi Maharaj he will disclose all the secrets of Mulayam, where will Mulayam go then? How is Nitish talking of communalism? Nitish Kumar, who ruled by making Sushil Modi his deputy CM and he was also in Atalji’s cabinet.
His associate Sharad Yadav was the NDA’s convener; Deve Gowda made his son a chief minister through the NDA; Chautala was once part of the NDA and even the Left parties joined hands with the BJP thrice to counter the Congress. They want to create a small roadblock for the BJP’s elephant stride. Any wise man can scoff at this unity in the name of communalism and secularism.
If the Janata Parivar is ready to unite, why do you object to it?
This is simply a plant. The leader of this alliance, Mulayam Singh was in Etawah jail with a known Sangh leader for a long time. Mulayam also worked along with Atal ji in a committee headed by Sangh leader Madhav Prasad Tripathi. In Ram Naresh Yadav’s ministry, both Kalyan Singh and Mulayam Singh were colleagues. It would be more rational if they plan for a sturdy opposition, and I would like to be a part of that.
If the Janata Parivar is united and later emerges as a single party, what should be its symbol?
Last year during the Muzaffarnagar riots when Lalu went there, Mulayam Singh made a statement that Lalu was licking the boots of the Congress. Lalu reacted sharply, saying that Mulayam who watches dancers should not speak like this. They think the public is foolish, that it would not remember this exchange. Mulayam went on to claim that, ‘I had almost become PM but Lalu did not let it happen’. Today they are relatives.
A press meet with Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh stating there that, ‘Mamata you go ahead, we are with you and against Pranab Mukherjee’, and then within half an hour made a U-turn. This puts a big question mark on how trustworthy they are.
Now they don’t even have Amar Singh with them to blame. Mulayam Singh did was responsible for all the good that happened, and Amar Singh was responsible for all that went wrong. Amar Singh brought Kalyan Singh. Now Mulayam Singh has to wear the crown of thorns for NiraYadav, Yadav Singh and Ashok Chaturvedi.
You were once were very close to Ashok Chaturvedi?
That is absolutely wrong. People like Ashok Chaturvedi and Ponty Chaddha were never close to me. They were part of Mulayam’s ‘arrangement’. When I was part of that system, they certainly met me. However, they never accompanied me when I left the organization. Despite my submission to the SIT, Chaturvedi was involved in the celebrations in Saifai. I was blamed for bringing cine stars. I have left but Jaya Bachchan remains a part.
How significant is money in politics?
It is very important, whether it is Modi’s politics or Mulayam’s. Only the Left and the Sangh people do politics with less money. I recall many people from the Sangh tried to help Jaya Prada against Azam Khan during the Rampur elections. We never asked for any help from the Sangh but they helped Jaya Prada in both the elections. They said they wanted to defeat Azam Khan and make Jaya Prada win.
Even today is politics like a ‘bazaru aurat’(whore), never affected by anyone’s tears?
Politics is best described in Chandrasekhar ji’s diary written during his 14 months in jail. He titled it “Rajneeti randi hai ya chandi” (Is Politics a whore or angry goddess?). There is nothing beautiful or saintly about politics. Like a whore it provides you the ultimate pleasure, of power. But when it turns ugly, it slits your throat like Chandi (angry goddess). Today, in jail I am realizing Chandi like politics although I once did enjoy the other side as well.
If your daughters want to join politics tomorrow, would you encourage them?
Never. I keep telling myself to stay away from politics. When I write my autobiography it will be in three parts.
What should be in those three parts?
One will be about my political life, the second will be an account of my association with the world of cinema and its people and the third segment would be about my relations with business people. Its title would be ‘Living with a Coax’.
What is the moral of the story, the story of your life?
The moral is never to go to the extremes of either politics or business; I went to the extremes of everything. “Help the needy, not greedy’. All those ‘needy’ ones whom I helped are still with me but the greedy ones have left. Every year I got 100 girls married, I gave them gifts and spent 4-5 lakhs on each of them.
Whenever we meet, they start crying and tell their children that I am their Nana (mother’s father). All those who promised to stay left me in the lurch, saying that since the sugar has been squeezed, the cane is of no further use. I no longer feel bad about it though I do find it amusing.
How do you see love?
Love is nothing but pain. Love can be truly described through Laila Majnu or Shirin Farhad. Love is not convergence.
Tell us something about your wife.
My wife is my only truth. Whatever she may be, she may be bad or ugly, she may be full of defects, but she will stand by you throughout. My wife contained me in herself, if I am done for, she will be finished too.
What is politics and power to you?
Politics is a pledge for service, however in current times politics is a business and power is an instrument to work this pledge of service. Today, it is all about Mulayam Singh Company or Karunanidhi & Company or Gadkari Company, or even Mamata & Company. Once a critic of dynastic politics, Mamata has initiated her nephew Abhishek into her politics.Mulayam’s politics is only about his family. It can also be Narendra Modi’s Company since all those who lost the elections were made ministers. Manmohan was liked by Sonia Gandhi, so he was made PM, whether he won or lost the elections.
Do you believe the word Lobbyist describes you?
No one calls me a lobbyist now. First, I was called a power broker lobbyist. Later everyone stopped calling me that. The current scenario is that I have left the blanket but the blanket is not ready to leave me. My situation is that of Sachin Tendulkar or Kapil Dev, even after leaving the game people keep asking me what the angle of the game is. I don’t feel bad about it as I entered politics on my own and not because of any family legacy.
If you are reborn, what would you like to be reborn as?
If I am born again, I would like to be a good journalist, who has reach everywhere, who is relevant to society. He must be well respected but feared also. No one has a better life than a journalist. He is fearless, keeps an eye on everyone and provides information to everyone. Someone like MJ Akbar, Rajat Sharma or Girilal Jain.