New Delhi, July 28 (Agency)
The Samajwadi Party (SP) Saturday clearly distanced itself from Shahid Siddiqui, saying he had long ago quit the party and was not even a primary member.
The SP's stand on Siddiqui comes in the wake of his interviewing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for Urdu newspaper "Nai Duniya", which he edits.
SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, in a statement, said: "The party wants to clarify that Siddiqui had left SP long back and joined BSP on whose ticket he contested Lok Sabha election from Bijnor and later joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal."
"Siddiqui is not a SP member and has nothing to do with the party. Projecting him as SP leader is outrightly wrong," Yadav said.
However, Siddiqui had reported rejoined SP in January this year, ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in February-March.
Yadav's statement was also backed by Azam Khan, another Samajwadi Party leader and Uttar Pradesh minister, in Lucknow.
In the interview to "Nai Duniya" edition dated July 26, Modi told Siddiqui that he would not apologise for the 2002 riots in Gujarat and he would rather prefer to be hanged if found guilty for the violence.
"If my government had done this (riots), I should be hanged in public in such a way that it remains a lesson for the next 100 years so that nobody dares to do it," Modi was quoted as saying in the interview.
This statement was seen as an effort by Modi for an image makeover by reaching out to the Muslim voters.