‘I am 79; people over 70 should not contest polls’

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has charged you with “indiscipline” and indulging in “anti-party activities”.
I’m 79 years old, so what indiscipline are you talking about? On the contrary, I’ve been praising Mayawati in every possible article that I have written in the last four months and on television. Her own people are indulging in anti-party activities by giving tickets to wrong people.

BSP General Secretary SC Mishra has also accused you of being an opportunist.
I treat this kind of thing with the contempt it deserves. Mr Satish Mishra is just a political upstart and I don’t want to waste my time on insignificant people like him.

You and your son, Jagat Singh, were the face of the BSP in Rajasthan. By quitting just before the state goes to the polls, aren’t you abandoning the party?
Not at all. In my hometown of Bharatpur, tickets were given to useless people. I mean, if you don’t consult us on our hometown, where we have lived for 300 years, what’s the use? I haven’t seen Mayawati for three months.

Were you expelled or did you resign?
I gave Mayawati my resignation on November 16 because they did not have the courtesy to consult me on ticket distribution. The party expelled me on November 17.

Jagat joined the BSP. You followed suit. Now he has joined the BJP. Will you follow again?
No. I am not joining any political party, because I’m 79-years-old.

But why? There are people older than you in politics.
Well, they shouldn’t be. I’ve said that people of 70 should be advising and not be in electoral politics.

Why did you wait for so long to quit politics?
I hung around because Mrs Sonia Gandhi had just joined politics, and I was helping her in whatever way I could.

Your decision to quit the Congress came at a Jat rally organised by the BJP. Is it true that you wanted to join the BJP then but it wasn’t ready to accommodate you?
Not at all. It was only a good occasion. The press asked me whether I was joining the BJP and I said no. I was actually there for the 300th anniversary of Maharaja Suraj Mal.

You were accused of joining the BSP after leaving the Congress because you had “ulterior motives”.
What was the ulterior motive?

That you wanted a Rajya Sabha nomination.
When I joined the party, I told Mayawati that “I don’t want Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, or Vidhan Sabha seat, and I don’t want party post. I could only help you in a broader way and try and get you an international profile.”

You were an integral part of the Congress for over two decades. Did you resign or were you asked to resign?
I resigned, otherwise they would have sacked me. And I didn’t want to let them have it so easy.

Were you upset with how the Congress treated you?
I was certainly disappointed. But I am a large-hearted person. It’s only when my honour is in question that I hit back. I am at good terms with myself and I enjoy life. I don’t waste time in calling people names.

Politics makes strange bedfellows.
Yes, it does all the time. The Congress party is hand-inglove with Karunanidhi’s party in Chennai even after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.


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