To regain lost ground, Mulayam says sorry to Muslims

Written by Political Bureau | Lucknow | Updated: Jul 17 2010, 04:48am hrs
Desperate to win back his Muslim support base after losing ground in Lucknow and Delhi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday apologised to the community for aligning last year with Kalyan Singh who was the chief minister of UP when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.

Reacting sharply to this move, Kalyan Singh, who was in the BJP at the time of the demolition in Ayodhya, called Mulayam Singh a traitor who had a habit of betraying people after using them.

Kalyan, with whom Mulayam aligned during the Lok Sabha polls last year, claimed that the SP would never return to power since Muslims and the backward class had drifted away from it.

During the Lok Sabha polls, Mulayam wanted to take my support. Though my friends cautioned me against him, I accepted his friendship keeping in mind the interest of the backward class, Kalyan said.

The SP, which won only 23 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, had accepted that its core Muslim voters had drifted to other parties.

In a statement, Mulayam, without naming Kalyan, said: In the last Lok Sabha polls, I had to take support of some galat tatva (wrong elements) to keep communal forces (BJP) at bay from forming a government at the Centre. This confused the secular forces, especially my Muslim brothers and their feelings were hurt. I accept my mistake and seek pardon from the Muslim community for my act.

I want to assure my Muslim brothers that whatever I have done will not be repeated and I will continue to raise my voice in favour of the Muslim community, said Mulayam whose Muslim vote bank eroded in the last election. I always took initiatives to defeat communal forces and did my duty, he said, adding that in 1990 as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, he took all measures to save the Babri Masjid.

BSP chief UP chief minister Mayawati dismissed his statement as a political stunt. It is the height of political opportunism. Such a person should not be trusted by anyone, she said.

UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the apology by Mulayam was an attempt to woo the Muslim community with an eye on the 2012 Assembly polls. The apology by Mulayam will not serve any purpose now as people have understood what he and his party are, she said.