Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav, who is among the two most powerful ministers in the Uttar Pradesh government, took on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi the day the latter kicked off his 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign in Uttar Pradesh with the ‘Vijay Shanknaad’ rally in Kanpur.
Two days before that, Shivpal said Mulayam would be the next prime minister. In an interview with HT, Shivpal Yadav attacks Modi and praises the Samajwadi Party government. Excerpts:
Narendra Modi marked his entry into Uttar Pradesh for campaigning on Saturday. What do you think of Modi’s Kanpur rally?
Inmey koi dam nahin hai. (Modi and people of his ilk lack substance). They are communal forces whipping up such sentiments among the people. The rally is not his entry into Uttar Pradesh. We will drive him out. We will not let him succeed here. It would be his exit from UP. Twice, we (Samajwadi Party) have stalled communal forces from coming to power. We have fought them well and we will fight them hard. We will stop them yet again.
But Modi did not say anything communal. He talked about development.
Is there much left to be said about his communal credentials? We are developing this state and we will not let UP become another Gujarat.
He is being talked about a lot and looks to be gaining ground.
Whatever Modi does in the rest of the country, he would not get a foothold in UP. I already said, we will stop him and make him retreat from UP.
But Muzaffarnagar happened in your regime? It is considered one of the worst riots in recent times. For the first time in 20 years, the army had to be called in to control the violence.
True, it was unfortunate. Communal forces fanned the fire. But we acted swiftly and controlled it in two days. I led a team to Muzaffarnagar and stayed there to take stock of relief measures. So many communal riots occurred across the country in the past. Did any state government carry out the kind of relief work that we have done (after Muzaffarnagar). The riot victims have never been helped in this way. We have done the most for them. We will take tough action against anyone who attempts to come in the way of the government’s efforts to maintain harmony.
So you think the UP government is doing good work?
Of course. What we have done in 18 months is creditable. Other state governments are replicating our schemes. Within 18 months, we have fulfilled most of the promises made in our (2012) assembly election manifesto. You all know what kind of UP we inherited. The situation here was bad. Our government is progressive, development-oriented and secular.