Will Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati work under Rahul Gandhi, asks Yogi Adityanath

Unfazed by reports about the opposition reaching a broad agreement on giving a joint fight to the BJP, Yogi Adityanath said the people are aware of the fact that they were uniting with the sole agenda of stopping the Narendra Modi juggernaut.

india Updated: Aug 05, 2018 08:25 IST
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Yogi adityanath,2019 elections,Uttar Pradesh

Reports about the opposition arriving at a broad consensus to jointly take on the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 general elections have been doing the rounds. On Friday, some visitors, while waiting to meet Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath at his official bungalow, were doing a rough calculation of the combined votes of the opposition vis-a-vis the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the 2014 polls. However, Adityanath appeared quite calm, considering the fact that UP’s contribution to the BJP’s kitty would be crucial to its return to power in 2019. Interestingly, he had just returned from Noida, heedless of the so-called jinx surrounding CMs visiting the place. There is a superstition that any chief minister visiting Noida loses power.

In an interview to Sunita Aron and Rajesh Singh , Adityanath fielded all questions, even uncomfortable ones, with a smile. Edited excerpts:

Q: Recent studies indicate a serious challenge to the BJP from the united opposition? You agree the fight will get tougher?

Have they decided the common issues on which they are going to contest the elections? Have they decided their leader who will lead them to the poll arena? Will Mamata (Banerjee), Akhilesh (Yadav), Sharad Pawar or Mayawati agree to work under Rahul Gandhi? People know the truth. Why are they side-stepping the contentious leadership issue. People know it is an alliance against the BJP and Narendra Modi, symbolic of their opportunism and anti-development mindset. The opposition simply want to defeat the BJP to stop Modi and the development of the country and plunge it in a state of anarchy. It is an alliance to once again create political instability in the country.

Q: But even the BJP had entered the 2014 poll arena with about two dozen allies.How is it different from a Congress alliance with like-minded parties?

NDA had contested the 2014 elections under a declared common minimum programme (CMP) and its leader Narendra Modi. There was no confusion as all the partners were involved in formulation of the CMP. It was a pre-electoral arrangement. Even though BJP mustered an overwhelming majority, the NDA formed the government. Thus it was a complete alliance. I have travelled to all the 75 districts of UP and found a favourable climate. People will vote on national issues and for Modi. BJP returning to power with absolute majority is beyond doubt.

Q: You claim a win in 75 seats, including the Gandhis’ bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi?

Our performance will once again be spectacular and we will win both Rae Bareli and Amethi. The Gandhis have lost Amethi earlier also and they will lose it again.

Q: UP is crucial to BJP’s return to power in 2019. Can the Congress-Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine upset the party’s applecart in the elections?

The people of the state have seen and suffered their misrule, riots, anarchy. Who does not want good governance, peace and security? The government has performed. In one year our government has delivered hundred times more than what the SP government could deliver in five years. All those who voted for us in 2014 will again support the BJP. But even those who drifted to other parties for some reason would also support us.

Q: But states like UP and Bihar vote on caste considerations than performance of the governments...

Like the 2014 and 2017 polls, caste loyalties are going to break once again in 2019. Again the election will be on the issue of nationalism and development.

Q: But the upper castes are unhappy with the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act. It was under their pressure that (former UP chief minister) Kalyan Singh had diluted certain provisions?

The law is already in force in UP, there is no confusion about it. Otherwise also every caste and community must get justice.

Q: Your opponents accuse you and the BJP of doing politics of communal polarization by raising issues of cow slaughter, temple etc

It’s an issue of faith. We don’t do any discrimination on the basis of caste or community like Akhilesh Yadav government did by supplying electricity to Dewa Sharief while denying it to Mahadev temple. The issue of ‘Kabristan’ and ‘Shamshan’ was also raised primarily because of the discrimination done by the previous government. My government believes in uniting all.

Q: But the Modi government is completing five years without fulfilling its Ayodhya temple promise. The spiritual leaders are angry?

I met all saints and they are not angry. Rather they are happy over the development works undergoing in Mathura, Kashi, Ayodhya. Other things (referring to the temple) would also happen when the time will come.

Q: Even as CM, you don’t attend festivities like Eid and Christmas. Is it a religious binding on you as head of Gorakhnath Peeth?

No, there is no such religious binding on me. Instead, my government ensures celebration of all festivals with full fervor in the state. We respect sentiments of all and give full freedom to celebrate. Not a single complaint of discrimination has come from any part of the state in last 16 months. I head a huge state with 75 districts, 350 tehsils and 823 development blocks. Much depends on my schedule but I meet all. I always send my wishes and senior minister to attend the festivities.

Q: Is UP planning action against illegal Bangadeshis on the pattern of Assam?

It’s unfortunate that questions are being raised on the national register of citizens (NRC) draft. I think the Assam government should be congratulated and supported on its move to identify infiltrators as they deprive Dalits, poor and the oppressed of their legitimate rights, besides risking national security. Let the issue be settled in Assam first. In any way a survey is already on in Uttar Pradesh to identify illegal immigrants.

Q: There is a demand to enact a law on lynchings? The first case was reported from the state when Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri?

It did not happen in my regime. We have strictly banned cow slaughter – one reason cited behind lynchings. When we talk about security of people, we should also respect the sentiments of the people. Cow slaughter is illegal, banned by law. People should adhere to it. The state governments should control incidents. There is no need for any law then.

Q: Opposition has demanded the Election Commission to use ballot papers and not electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the 2019 general elections...

It only reflects the opposition’s frustration. Tell me, which party has not come to power after the introduction of EVMs. BSP and SP won UP in 2007 and 2012, Congress Punjab. The Election Commission is a constitutional authority and it is wrong to put them in the dock. The commission has, after detailed investigations, ruled out tampering of the EVMs. Those who captured booths are demanding use of ballot papers. EVMs checked the practice of booth capturing.

Q: Why is Hindu Yuva Vahini lying dormant? There are speculations about its merger with the BJP?

Hindu Yuva Vahini is engaged in social activities like plantation. BJP cadre is also doing its own work. There is no clash.

Q: You did not grow up in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) boots. Have they accepted you? Do they interfere too much in administration?

RSS is the only cultural organization in the country which is engaged in huge social activity, without any support from the government. They don’t interfere in the administration.

Q: Are you satisfied with the performance of your ministers? There has been no reshuffle.

Yes, I do regular review of all departments. They are working efficiently as per their capacity. We will do a reshuffle as and when required.

Q: The state has held the Investors’ Summit and Ground-breaking Ceremony. What next?

It is a beginning and not an end. The foundation of UP’s industrialization has been laid. Now the focus will be on implementation of the MoUs (memorandums of understanding). Thereafter, Global Investors’ Summit will be held. It’s too early to announce the date.

Q: Will it be held before the elections?

It has nothing to do with elections.

Q: You had claimed improved law and order gave impetus to industrial growth. But the state was hit by a spate of criminal activities soon after the Investors’ Summit...

Yes, I reiterate organized crime, red-tapism and corruption are the major issues that discourage investment. A few unfortunate incidents have occurred. Besides fixing answerability, we are determined to find the culprits from wherever they may be hiding. We will find them at any cost. We will not break the confidence of the investors and industrialists in the state.

Q: And corruption?

The chief secretary has been given two months to take action. No one will be spared, howsoever high and mighty.

Q: Tell us three major sectors in which the government has been immensely successful?

Agriculture -- Rs 1 lakh crore was directly transferred in farmers’ accounts. Besides loan waiver scheme, we paid Rs 34,000 crore to the cane growers in the season, including Rs 11,000 crore arrears of the past six years. The previous government had paid Rs 14,000 crore in the season. The SP government had done procurement of 7 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains. We have done direct procurement of 52 lakh metric tonnes. And the Ben Sagar Dam scheme: It was cleared by government of India in 1973. Its foundation stone was laid by Morarji Desai in 1978. After 40 years, my government completed the project.

Q: Other sectors?

Construction of 1.3 crore toilets as against 10 lakh by Akhilesh government. We built 8.85 lakh houses for poor in one year as against 63,000 by Akhilesh government. We are going ahead with mapping, marketing, branding of our traditional products. Idea is to make the glass of Ferozabad compete with that of Belgium in the global market.

Q: Any new scheme in the pipeline?

Soon barbers in villages will have saloons. Why should they run their shop from under a tree? Under Vishwakarma Samman Scheme, we have decided to register all traditional workers at the village level like barbers, cobblers etc and give them training besides connecting them to banks for loans.

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 07:20 IST