New Delhi: Shahid Siddiqui is not a member of the Samajwadi Party, party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav sought to clarify on Saturday. Siddiqui had recently interviewed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for a Urdu weekly, whereby the latter said that he was ready to be hanged if he was proven guilty in the 2002 riots case.
The interview fuelled speculation that Modi was no longer a political untouchable to the Samajwadi Party and that the two parties were getting closer.
Yadav, however, refuted the rumours. He said, "Shahid Siddiqui is not a member of the SP. He left the party a long time back and later joined the Lok Dal. He can go to Modi if he wants to." He appealed to the media to not consider Siddiqui as an SP representative.
Sources, however, say that Siddiqui was removed from the Samajwadi Party after he did the interview with Modi. The party had reportedly taken a strong objection to it.
Party spokesperson Rajendra Choudhry, however, said that it was never clear whether Siddiqui was a member of the party or not. "I am not aware if he ever joined the party or not. During elections, many people declare their support to the party but that does not mean they are party members," he said.
He added, "Ram Gopalji has said that Shahid Siddiqui is not a part of the Samajwadi Party.... The way some people go to different TV channels and give interviews, it has become important that the party makes it clear. The actions of Shahid Siddiqui has compelled the party to take this step."
In the past, Siddiqui has hit out at Mayawati when he was with the Bahujan Samaj Party, which led to his ouster from the party. Siddiqui is now said to join a new political party.
SP issues gag order
Post the controversial Narendra Modi interview to a Samajwadi Party leader, who did it for an Urdu weekly, the party issued new guidelines on Friday saying that no other leader except Mulayam Singh Yadav, his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary would appear on TV henceforth.
The interview made headlines as Modi had for the first time spoken on the 2002 riots and dared his detractors to hang him if he was proven guilty.
The interview had also led to speculation of a tacit understanding between the BJP and the SP and rumours that Modi was no longer a political untouchable for the SP.