In two years’ time, you will see a marked difference in UP: Deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya
A former Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) office bearer, Maurya, who is also the UP BJP chief, clearly has a challenge up his sleeve given the fact that at several places, it is difficult to distinguish roads from potholes.lucknow Updated: Jul 17, 2017 16:11 IST
Having missed the June 15 deadline to make state roads ‘gaddha mukt’ or pothole free, deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, the BJP’s OBC face in Uttar Pradesh, now says in two years time not just roads, but the state too will be transformed.
A former Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) office bearer, Maurya, who is also the UP BJP chief, clearly has a challenge up his sleeve given the fact that at several places, it is difficult to distinguish roads from potholes.
Maurya spoke to HT on the ‘gaddha mukt sadak’ challenge and his plans to rid the PWD of the corruption taint. Excerpts:
As the state’s PWD minister, you had promised to make roads ‘gaddha mukt’ or pothole-free by June 15. Deadline missed, by when do you think you will be able to keep your commitment?
You have to take things into perspective. If you go by roads maintained by PWD, then we have made 83% roads pothole free in just about 100 days. That’s a record in itself. But if you take all the roads into account, and please remember that the state has over 1.21 lakh kilometres of them, then too we have covered 63% of them.
Yes, but since the BJP government in the 90s, the potholes never got covered. In fact, they only got bigger over the years. How do you think you will be able to make a difference?
Had the previous government done something on roads, especially after Modiji came to power at the centre, things would have been a lot better. Sadly, nothing happened beyond lip service. That’s why we have been saying that we have done in three months what hadn’t been done over the last 15 years of SP, BSP rule.
Corruption in the PWD has been an issue for long. As the department’s minister, do you have any plans to cleanse the department?
I am sure you will have seen some difference already in the last 100 days. You will see more of them.
I am not against anyone making profits in lieu of the work put in. But if someone thinks that they will continue to mint money by showing ‘roads on paper’, then they are mistaken. We are trying to break the contractor-official nexus in the PWD and have already identified ‘black sheep’ in the department. I have written to the additional chief secretary to check how those employees, against whom we act, manage to get some legal relief. We have a battery of lawyers and we intend to plug the loopholes.
Why should we believe you?
The kind of mandate we have got in UP is due to PM Modiji’s credibility. That’s why you would have noticed we have hit the ground running. We hold regular meetings with the officials of the surface transport ministry to make joint plans for all the roads in the state. The centre has agreed to maintain over 100-plus state highways and main artery roads by taking these into their fold. Roads are integral to the state’s development. In two years’ time, you will see a much changed state.
You introduced e-tendering to curb corruption, but we hear people have found a way to beat it as well. True?
No, it won’t be possible. Rest assured, if someone has found a way to beat the system, we will prove to be one up on them. There is no compromising with PM Modiji’s zero tolerance policy on corruption.
You are head of the party’s state unit and also the state’s deputy CM. We have learnt that the cadre, upset at not being heard in the government, is getting restless. That’s a warning signal for 2019, isn’t it?
I believe that the cadre is important because between the government and the organisation, the organisation is more important. It’s because of the organisation that the government is formed. Without affecting the interests of the people of the state, we will definitely ensure that the cadre’s expectations are satisfied.
Are you going to address the ‘police thana, kachheri and transfer postings’ demands of the cadre?
99.9% of the BJP cadre doesn’t engage in any unlawful activity or make any unjust demands.
You are talking of addressing the demands of the cadre but we hear that the residents of the village, where your in-laws live, too are unhappy that their village hasn’t seen the expected turnaround?
It’s true that the village and sasuraal are both mine, but as the state’s deputy chief minister, I am responsible for the ensuring development of not one but all the villages. Several villages of the state need government’s push because we may have come to power in UP with 42% vote but will work for the whole of the state.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is your neighbour. We hear so many things. What’s your relationship with the CM like?
The CM is also the head priest of a famous temple. As an MP I had the fortune of being with him in Parliament for about two years. He is a very talented and very hardworking individual who respects all. Like me, for him too this is a first experience in governance and I must say he is doing a great job of steering the state through the problems we inherited. We have the people’s trust.
Law and order remains an area of concern. What are you doing about it?
Unlike previous governments, we have ordered 100% registration of FIRs. Soon, you will see a marked improvement.
This was the first time in many years that UP government didn’t host iftaar party during Ramzan. What’s the message your government is trying to send out?
The centre too decided not to host iftars. It’s a big and bold decision because we should grow out of such tokenism. If we host iftar, we are pro-Muslim, if we don’t, we are against them. It’s time we grew out of such a mindset. We are working on ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ motto and that is why we have taken bold decisions like GST.
The UP budget tabled by your government has funds for development of Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya but none else? Why?
This is just the beginning. We are developing important places of all tourist interest, be they religious or otherwise.
You had said that when you would have your governments in UP and at the centre, temple construction will happen. Now what holds you back?
Temple will surely happen. But when it will happen will depend on the court or an out-of-court settlement.
Mayawati is accusing BJP of inciting caste clashes to make gains in 2019 Lok Sabha polls? What’s the target for 2019?
60% vote share from UP is our target! As far as Mayawatiji is concerned, she is still in a state of shock as she has become irrelevant in UP now.
Do you think the SP and the BSP could be part of a grand alliance against BJP in 2019?
I used to say it in 2017 and will say so again that if they have any misgivings, they should come together and see their fate for themselves.
You are also the state BJP chief and, under the one man, one post principle, you would have to relinquish one post. When?
That’s the decision of the party. On my part if the party tomorrow asks me to man the doors of the party, I will do that too. I am a party worker who has sold tea and swept floors in the past.