Edited excerpts from an interview:
You have come all guns blazing on Mulayam Singh, calling him unfit even to be a sweeper at the prime minister’s house. Don’t you think your vitriolic statements will harm the Congress and vitiate the party’s relationship with the Samajwadi Party?
My entire political career has been spent in the Samajwadi Party in its different forms. Politically, we are from the same group. It was a painful decision to leave that party. But once I decided to leave, I met Mulayam Singh and told him what problems I had with him and the party. Only after that did I come out and announce my decision to quit the party. Then Motilal Vohra made me meet Sonia Gandhi, after which I joined the Congress. So I am the same person that I was earlier. I don’t change. Whichever party I am in, I will do whatever is in its best interest. I really don’t care what line the party takes. I only think about the future of the party and act accordingly.
You were pulled up by Madhusudan Mistry, the Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh. After this, you said that you were hurt and could leave the party?
I have said whatever I had to say on the matter. It is everywhere, you also know it. There is no need to repeat it. I only speak for the good of the party.
Your intemperate utterances have always embarrassed the party leadership. Sonia Gandhi had to apologise to Mulayam Singh after your tiff with him during the Budget session. Why do you act like a loose cannon?
I have full confidence in Sonia Gandhi and Rahul. And both of them have confidence in me. So there is no reason for any embarrassment.
There are rumours that one of the real reasons behind your outbursts is that you are seeking a ticket from the Bahujan Samaj Party.
I feel that the Congress leadership is very intelligent and full of wisdom. The incident you referred to happened during the Budget session and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was constituted later. Earlier, I was low down in the order but after the reconstitution, I am among the top three. There is nothing higher than the CWC in the Congress, and I am a member of that. This means that the leadership trusts me. Also, I am a loyal Congressman.
Don’t you think your utterances will only harm your party? And don’t you worry that they are not in good taste?
If I also think like everybody else does, then how will I be different from others? The Congress has to be brought back to life in Uttar Pradesh. There has to be somebody who is different, who can speak differently, make different kind of public statements. I am different and that is why I will ensure the Congress wins 50 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014.
Are you implying that whatever you say is with the sanction of the Congress leadership?
No, not at all. My utterances are my own. As I said earlier, I am my own man.
How do you see your party’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh with the new Pradesh Congress Committee and with Mistry as general secretary in charge of the state?
The Congress leadership is very wise. We will win 50 sets in Uttar Pradesh. Not only will the Congress win, but Narendra Modi and Amit Shah will go back to Gujarat like an undelivered letter. They will have no impact whatsoever in UP.