[Wednesday, April 21, 2004 10:59:31 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORK]
ALLAHABAD: Satya Prakash Malviya, a veteran Socialist, is contesting as the Congress candidate from Allahabad parliamentary constituency. He is pitted against MM Joshi, Union HRD minister of BJP, three-time winner and the Samajwadi Party candidate Reoti Raman Singh, the transport minister of UP.
Malviya was yet to begin his campaign trail on Wednesday morning. His Allapur residence was abuzz with party workers. In an exclusive interview with TNN,
Malviya described both his political opponents as ‘seasoned politicians.’ Though BJP and SP were busy in hate campaign, no one indulged in mud slinging against him.
"Just a few days back, I met Joshi in a wedding party. In fact, he was going out, when I was entering the place. When Joshi saw me, he rushed to me. We hugged each other, warmly," he said. He explained that though Joshi and Singh were political opponents, with ‘mathvedh’ (ideological differences), but there was no 'manvedh' (clash of interests) amongst them.
He said, Vajpayee has a tarnished past. "Our PM had turned approver of the Britishers in 1942, when he was arrested with several others in Bateshwar Bazar, in Agra on August 27. He had said that he was at a distance of 100 metres and that he had not caused any harm or had ransacked government property," Malviya said.
He added, the saree tragedy once again exposed the true face of the BJP. It had also exposed the SP. Mulayam Singh Yadav did not visit those who died, but he went to Lalji Tandon’s residence. His body language revealed his closeness to the BJP. He added, "Yadav did not open the Babri Masjid case. He is cheating the Muslims. Even LK Advani was let off in the Ayodhya case on technical grounds."
When asked why he left the Socialist fold and joined hands with the Congress party, he said, Sonia Gandhi too asked the same question. He was the general secretary of Lok Dal, which was headed by Ajit Singh, son of Charan Singh.
There were reports that he was negotiating with the NDA. Malviya had told him that if Ajit were to join the NDA, he would quit it that very day. Further, the Indian polity is maturing, now. Slowly, a two party like situation is emerging on the national scene.
The contest is now between Congress and its allies, on one hand and BJP with its allies, on the other hand. His Socialist leanings kept him away from the saffron brigade. Congress was, therefore, the logical choice. It was during the Parivartan Rally at Lucknow, which were twice postponed, that Malviya’s joining the Congress was announced. He explained that he was seeking people’s mandate after 14 years. It was in 1980, when he had contested the UP assembly polls. Before that he was a corporator, in 1970, and mayor in 1972-73. He had defeated Joshi in the mayoral polls.