UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was at his Lucknow home, directing his party’s Varanasi cadre on the phone for the fight against Narendra Modi, when The Indian Express caught up with him for this interview:
To what would you attribute the BJP’s resurgence in UP since the assembly polls in 2012?
During the assembly elections, we reminded people of the work done during Netaji’s (Mulayam’s) earlier government. Now before the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and fundamentalist Hindu organisations such as the RSS and the VHP have handed over the leadership to Narendra Modi. They have sought to create an impression that there is no model better than the Gujarat model. But when they reached Uttar Pradesh, they forgot development and they adopted a communal line. The challenge before the Samajwadi Party is tough, but we will counter them.
If you have done so much good work, why is the public perception about your government poor?
Who forms the public perception? Our good work is never highlighted. Tell me of any state government that has provided laptops to 15 lakh students, or tell me of any state government that has provided berozgari bhatta to 12 lakh unemployed youth. Our opponents always spread negative publicity but our achievements have reached people.
You say the BJP has deviated from development to communalism. Do you hold the BJP responsible for the communal riots in UP?
The BJP’s leadership and many of their senior leaders have been involved in these riots. Courts and newspapers have also pointed fingers at them. And the BJP was feeling so proud of it that the party felicitated those leaders in its Agra rally. That is why I said the party, which wanted to come to Uttar Pradesh with a development agenda, became communal here.
The Samajwadi Party’s attack on Modi does not appear as strong as Arvind Kejriwal’s attack.
Are they a party? They will do anything to promote themselves. Should we also do all that? We too went to Varanasi, we too went to Sangam. Was there any need to take a holy dip in front of the media? What is their ideology? They will sweep the ground just for
What future do you see for the AAP?
It is a waste of time to talk about that party.
What future do you see for the Congress under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership?
I have nothing to say. I can only say the Congress is seen now as a very weak party. They have no achievements in 10 years. I don’t think they will be able to address people’s questions during these elections.
What is the future of the BSP?
The BSP has lost its magic.
The prime minister has said that it would be a disaster if Modi becomes prime minister. Do you agree?
The opportunity for this disaster has been given by the prime minister himself. If the Congress was strong, its economic policies were correct, there would have been no possibility of such a disaster. I am saying that he (the prime minister) paved the way for Modi. We are fighting and will stop Modi from becoming PM but Modi ko rasta to inhone hi dikhaya tha.
Modi has been wooing the young and Yadavs of UP and Bihar. Do you see a threat to your support base?
We see no problem. Modi ko desh, duniya sab jaanti hai. The question is not that. The question is of secularism and socialist ideology. The Samajwadi Party will stop him.
What do you have to say of the general perception that you have not been able to perform because of pressure from elders in your family?
I am working with senior leaders. Often they give their suggestions. Whenever there are some suggestions, I accede.