Unruffled by the recent surveys showing a sharp decline in his party's popularity, Samajwadi Party state president and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav says he and every party worker wants netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) to go to the Lok Sabha with overwhelming numbers.
At the time when his government is under a cloud for non-performance, he smiles and tells HT, “We will go back to the voters on the twin plank of development and secularism and I am confident would get their support also.” Excerpts:
As a son, are you determined to see your father on the Prime Minister’s chair after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?
The SP got a majority in UP because of netaji’s vision, public support and workers' hard work. As and when required, he has played a key role in national issues – in combating communal forces, in supporting the nuclear deal and in asserting China as an ‘unreliable partner’.
And he has been proven right. He is a veteran and we all are determined to see him walk into Lok Sabha with a big chunk of MPs. He himself is reviewing the poll preparedness in each and every constituency and irrespective of what the surveys say, we will do well.
But the survey predicts major gains for the BJP?
I don’t want to comment on the surveys because they must have had their own basis. But I am sure the public will vote for our development plank and will not fall into the trap of communal or caste forces. We have dissected each and every case that has been highlighted by the media as communal riots and found the hand of these forces in spreading disharmony. They want election on communal and caste lines, but they will fail in their designs. People will see through their games and vote for development.
Development is also Modi's plank and he is also addressing youth?
Eversince youth became the change-maker in UP, everybody has started addressing them, but without a youth agenda, which we have. I am of their age group and I can understand their issues as . Is there any state which has added 350 medical seats in 18 months? Do they have unemployment allowance as well as job creation, new universities on their mind?
If development is your plank then you should be a worried chief minister as people have started losing patience and appear disappointed?
Our manifesto is our agenda and we are on the track. People will see the work on the grounds before 2014 elections. For five years, the Congress had been struggling for land to set up an All India Medical Institute and Indian Institute of Hotel Management. They have got the land. We are moving ahead in power sector with an ambitious scheme for time bound supply of power; in the health sector with new hospitals, we have come up with solar energy policy etc.
What about law and order, many believe it was better during the Mayawati regime?
I don’t want to talk about statistics but would quote the promptness with which action has been taken in each and every case. But that never gets highlighted. Somehow I feel when opposition does not find any potent issue to nail the government, they start drumming up the poor law and order issue.
Many foresee communal polarisation because of Narendra Modi. It can impact your party if the Muslims dumped SP for a national party like the Congress?
This is not the first time when we are hearing this, regional VS national debate. Faces might have changed but ideology has always remained the same. As for the Congress, I think they have many questions to answer --on rupee devaluation, poverty yardsticks, Chinese incursions etc.
So according to you there is a possibility of a non-Congress, non-BJP government at the Centre?
People want a third force government at the Centre which is pro farmer, pro youth. Though much would depend on the numbers, I can only say that the SP will play a major role and this is the reason why we are being attacked. Our adversaries want to stop us in the tracks and are making every effort to defame us.
They criticise us for distributing laptops, which for me opens a window for the young. Now even Rajasthan and Delhi are aping us. During my visit to Bangalore, I said soon UP guys will capture the job space as their government was not distributing laptops.
You have been touring? How is the response from other regional parties?
I have been to Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and we all want an alliance. They are watching UP with keen interest . We are also getting rousing reception everywhere.
Will you be open to taking support from BJP or NDA in case you are short of numbers like the BSP?
No, never. We will sit in the opposition. Even with 40, we remained in the Opposition for almost a decade.
Don't you think the members of the prospective third front should come up with a policy framework before the elections?
All of us will be spelling out our national priorities and issues in our election manifestoes.
What about the disproportionate asset case?