Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said on Sunday that Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and elected party legislators will chose who will head the next government if voted back to power.
Though Akhilesh may still be in the chief ministerial race, he sounded somewhat dejected in an exclusive interview to HT in the aftermath of a bitter family feud, stressing that his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and uncle Shivpal were more experienced than him.
“They understand better,” the chief minister said. He conceded that the family feud – which saw him divesting his uncle of several important ministerial portfolios and then himself being replaced as the state party president – benefited the rival parties.
Akhilesh, in the interview, chose to focus on the spree of development projects that he plans to inaugurate before the imposition of code of conduct in the state. Excerpts:
Q: Will you be the chief ministerial face for 2017?
A: I am the chief minister till the forthcoming elections. Netaji will decide the CM face for 2017.
Q: If Samajwadi Party wins the elections, who will be the CM?
A: Netaji and newly elected MLAs will decide.
Q: Mulayam had said that he should have gone by Shivpal’s advice and become the CM himself in 2012.
A: You can’t change history. It has now gone in the books. We can only prepare for better days ahead. When I was riding a chariot or cycling across the state before the 2012 elections, I was not thinking of becoming CM. Perhaps, few have ridden the chariot and the cycle twice in the state. Even (helicopter) landings, Netaji might have done the most and then, it’s me.
Q: But now when you hit the road, people may ask you more about the family feud than the development works?
A: I am preparing a 2017 manifesto for the development of the state. I will talk about poll promises that we had made in 2012 and have fulfilled. I will also present a blueprint drawn for the continuation of state’s development. For instance, we have started registration for smart phones because we think it is the best way to involve people in the governance process.
Q: Will you not campaign?
A: I will be going on an inauguration spree now. There are so many completed projects that need to be inaugurated. When I was the state president, I had organised workers’ rallies in all the constituencies to understand the public pulse vis a vis elections. Office bearers were also asked to send a list of ticket aspirants and their prospects. This would have helped in ticket distribution. I will submit my list to Netaji very soon.
Q: Are you saying that the party will contest the polls while you will concentrate on your development agenda?
A: In a democracy, the elections are fought by the people and the party. The national president has decided to make changes in the organisation, and I am sure before hitting the campaign trail, the new president will form his new team from booth to the state level and tell the people the works that the government has done.
Q: Don’t you think the party has suffered immense loss because of the family feud?
A: Netaji and ‘chacha’ (uncle) are more experienced than me. They understand it better.
Q: Who is at loss and gains then?
A: Everybody will know it in 2017, after the results.
Q: Do you see a BJP hand in the escalated family feud?
A: I don’t know. I know both the BJP and BSP are enjoying the divide in our party. Let the BJP bring one CM face and we will all see their dispute. Although BSP has only one face, there have been disputes.
Q: Are you hurt or sad?
A: (Quoting Winston Churchill) Politics is a serious business, not a game. At a time when Congress, without any base, has hired a professional agency and is doing khat sabhas despite failing to mobilise public support, at a time when BJP and BSP have geared up their poll campaigns, we are bogged down with posts and positions, forming new teams. I am concentrating on the projects that I had promised to complete.
Q: Are you lonely?
A: No. I am still in charge of frontal organisations of the party’s youth wing. We should never underestimate the power of youth. They have the courage to change situations. We need their support.
Q: You had announced in the assembly that you will present the next budget?
A: Yes, I said in the assembly. It will now be up to the people as they have to decide who will be the next CM and from which party.