How do you look the family fight within the Samajwadi Party will impact the UP polls?
Their family fight is a fight for power (varchasva ki ladaai). Their base voters are Yadavs, now they too will be divided into two. A message will also go out to OBCs that they are divided. And Muslims have decided to vote for a party that is in a position to defeat the BJP. The BSP is the natural beneficiary.
What if the SP manages to stitch together a grand alliance?
You have to see whether the parties with which they are trying to ally have any base in UP. These parties have no presence in UP. The condition of the Congress is already bad. Moreover, this also shows the SP has accepted it has become weak. After all, why did they need an alliance? It’s because they have gone weak.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is banking on youth appeal as well as development.
Which youth are with him? Those who were with Mulayam Singh Yadav are now with him… They have started no new work, only renamed old schemes we had launched. Most of the expressway projects were initiated during our time. Mahamaya Pension Yojana was renamed Samajwadi Pension Yojana.
The BJP is trying to consolidate among Dalits, especially non-Jatavs. Could this divide the Dalit vote?
A bill was brought for an amendment to the SC/ST reservation system (quota in promotion bill)… We got it passed in Rajya Sabha but the BJP did not allow it through Lok Sabha. This has led to all such castes consolidating in favour of the BSP.
Rahul Gandhi has been visiting Dalit homes in UP.
So what. That is what Amit Shah [BJP chief] too is doing. Dalits are not going to be fooled this way. They are with the BSP.
Do you foresee Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the flogging of Dalits in Una impacting the polls?
This will hugely damage the BJP in UP as well as in the 2019 general elections.
Since you mention 2019, do you see any common Opposition candidate emerging after the UP polls to take on Narendra Modi?
Let the results [UP] first come.
Do you think it’s time for a Dalit PM?
Let the time come.
Do you think the BJP could have done better if it had named a CM candidate?
Let alone a CM candidate, they don’t even have candidates for 403 seats… They are scared that if they declare a particular CM candidate, other castes will desert them.
But the strike across the Line of Control will have created the impression of a strong government, won’t it?
Had there been peace on the border after the strike, the BJP could have gained something. But firing continues… They want to gain out of the action of the Army. It is the Army that should get the credit.
Do you expect polarisation between Hindus and Muslims?
Both the BJP and the SP are trying to create communal tension but people have become aware. When the BSP was in power, there were no communal riots. The Muzaffarnagar riots happened [in 2013] and both the BJP and the SP were responsible.
The Ram temple issue is being revived.
They have been in government for 2½ years, what were they doing so far? Now when elections are near, they remember it… Will the Supreme Court allow them to construct a Ram temple now?
Wouldn’t Brahmin voters rather go with the BJP?
It is the BSP that will get Brahmin votes. In fact we will get votes of all communities. The BSP believes in the philosophy sarvajan hitaya, sarvajan sukhaye.
But many leaders deserted the BSP. Won’t that help the BJP gain among their communities?
It will have no impact. Some leaders have left but their communities are still with the BSP.
How does BSP view the debate over triple talaq and uniform civil code?
No one should interfere in the religion of another. Even if there is any shortcoming somewhere, it has to be dealt with by followers of that religion. Muslim women are also very educated, they can raise their. Narendra Modi should not impose his views on them.