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Lok Sabha elections 2019 | Mulayam congratulated Maya after alliance’s Gorakhpur bypoll victory: Akhilesh Yadav

Akhilesh Yadav is certain that PM Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which, together with an ally, won 73 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, would lose a large number of them in the coming elections

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 29, 2019 10:36 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
SP,Akhilesh,Akhilesh Yadav
Akhilesh is certain that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which, together with an ally, won 73 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, would lose a large number of them in the coming elections. (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

Watching PM Narendra Modi’s rally in Meerut on Thursday, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav appears amused. In an interview, he told Hindustan Times that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which, together with an ally, won 73 of UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, would lose a large number of them in the coming elections. Edited excerpts:

Q: Is your father and SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav happy with your decision to ally with BSF chief Mayawati, with whom he had a political break-up about two decades ago?

A: Yes. He is certainly happy and is contesting election from Mainpuri. He also knows that this alliance has been forged to save the country from crisis and impending danger.

Q: You are planning a joint rally with Mayawati in Mainpuri. Why, and will he [Mulayam] share the dais?

We have planned a number of joint rallies across the state that includes Mainpuri too. He will share the dais.

Q: Has Mulayam spoken to Mayawati in the recent past?

No, not in recent days. But he did call her up to congratulate her on our victory in Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and other constituencies.

Q: Don’t you think Firozabad will cause political embarrassment with two family members — Ram Gopal Yadav’s son Akshay Pratap Singh and Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav — contesting against each other? And will you and Mulayam campaign?

No, there will be no embarrassment. In fact we are going to win the seat with a huge margin. I will campaign, netaji [Mulayam] may also visit the constituency. He has already blessed Akshay.

Q: Is the BJP supporting Shivpal Singh Yadav (Akhilesh’s estranged uncle)?

I don’t want to comment on that. But yes, when we were being evicted from our official residences, the Yogi [Adityanath] government had promptly given a chief minister’s bungalow to him. We also know that some opposition leaders have been meeting the chief minister at his official bungalow late in the night.

Q: Don’t you think BJP will gain from a triangular contest? Was it Mayawati who threw a spanner in the formation of a grand alliance between the three parties (SP, BSP and Congress) ?

No, she did not throw a spanner in it. It is the Congress and its arrogance that is responsible for it. In some ways, the BJP and the Congress are same in their behaviour with other parties. They don’t know how to give [others] respect.

Q: Did Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra speak to you? Is there any possibility of a tactical understanding even now?

No comments. As of now, I can say that we will never be with Congress. They are more interested in rebuilding their party in the state than defeating/stopping BJP. I think our alliance is strong enough to take on the BJP, which is nervous, which is clearly reflected in their decision to renominate most of the sitting MPs. They have only dropped Dalit MPs.

Q: Many believe you are playing second fiddle to Mayawati. Is it correct?

This is BJP’s propaganda. I met several national leaders who were of the view that SP-BSP should come together to stop BJP’s victory march and save the country from a deep crisis. There is nothing senior or junior in politics. Alliances are built on mutual respect.

Q: You heard the PM described your alliance as “SARAB” (liquor), an acronym for Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party. Your comment?

Well, it is an alliance of farmers, and the poor. BJP is confused as it knows the party is not getting votes on development. That is why they are testing issues like nationalism, Hindutva, and communal polarisation.

Despite being the same party’s government at the Centre and in UP, they have failed to provide jobs and a quota for Jats. They are silent on demonetisation as they failed to check black money. Mere slogans will not help as people want change as he [Modi] has betrayed them on promises that he made in 2014. Ours is an alliance of farmers and poor.

Our alliance represents the multicultural character of the country.

Q: Chief minister Yogi Adityanath said his government has not discriminated in the implementation of welfare schemes. What’s your take?

I would want the BJP high command to tell the people how many governors, chief ministers and university vice-chancellors were picked from the backward classes.

Q: The CM said the BSP will end up with zero and even the SP will not make much headway.

He did not know about the fate of the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat that he had been representing for long, in the by-election, till they lost it.

Q: The common perception is that Yadav votes won’t transfer to the BSP.

It’s a misconception. The alliance is strong from top to ground level.

Q: You want to field a strong candidate in Lucknow. Why?

We are contesting this election on the slogan of development and my government did tremendous development work in Lucknow.

Q: The Opposition lacks a leader of the stature of Modi.

We have many leaders and will take a call as and when the time comes.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 06:18 IST