Amar Singh challenges Mayawati to jail him


New Delhi : Challenging Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to jail him, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh Monday asserted that he had never gone underground after his party's electoral defeat or fled the country.

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"I will feel very happy if I am sent to jail. Jail is a very nice place. Mayawati will do a good service to me by sending me to jail," Singh said in his first comments after the party was ousted from power in Uttar Pradesh.

In an interview with CNN-IBN news channel a day after Mayawati took charge as chief minister, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh's 'Man Friday' denied reports that he had planned to run away from the country after the poor showing in the elections.

"There is no question of my running away from the country and I am not a criminal that I will have to leave this country. Victory or defeat is part and parcel of democracy. When Mayawati lost her share, she did not leave the country. So there is no reason for me to leave the country."

Singh accused Mayawati of practising vendetta politics, claiming the real defeat in Uttar Pradesh was not of the Samajwadi Party but of the Sonia-Rahul combine and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

He admitted that if his party "hadn't worked so hard, things would have been worse".

Taking a dig at Congress' star campaigner Rahul Gandhi, Singh said: "I don't understand why the media went gung-ho with 12-hour daily coverage and OB vans for live telecast of Rahul baba (Gandhi). The dimple on his cheeks became national news.

"His pompous statement that we (Gandhi family) have broken Pakistan and all the others were tall claims. The truth is that the percentage (vote) has gone down and so have the seats. Congress is totally routed. So now every channel is saying it was Rahul baba's fault and that he had no base. So I am not going to go on a defensive," he said.

He denied that film star Amitabh Bachhan had campaigned for his party in the state assembly elections. "Bachchan never campaigned for Samajwadi Party. He campaigned as the brand ambassador for Uttar Pradesh."

Singh admitted that the party's social engineering "backfired".

"In a TV debate, I said more than development it's the social engineering that matters and I maintain that. If development would have been the sole criteria, then Chandrababu Naidu (Telugu Desam Party chief) would have never lost to Rajashekhara Reddy (Andhra Pradesh chief minister)," he said.

Singh refuted the charge that Bachchan's ad campaign had a Samajwadi Party logo. "He never took SP's name at all and the ad that he did for UP was sponsored by Samajwadi Party. This was because otherwise my opponents would have said that government exchequer is misused".

He said the ad campaign had not backfired and that "from Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Advani-ji to Rahul-ji to Mayawati-ji to Sonia-ji and V.P. Singh-ji and our own dissidents were collectively targeting it. Had there not been this complaint, things could have been worse."