Hours after being sworn in as Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat spoke to Indian Express about his victory, the agenda for the state and UP CM Yogi Adityanath.
Your party got 57 seats. Did you expect such a massive victory?
If you look at my (earlier) statements, I expected 44 seats. We did not expect 57. People gave us much more than what we had asked for.
What caused such a victory?
If we were to identify one reason, that is the faith of people in Prime Minister Narendra Modiji. When Modiji makes an appeal to people, they eagerly come forward.
There were quite a few CM probables. Why were you chosen?
I have never demanded anything, not even the Assembly ticket. When I was about to the receive the Assembly poll ticket, I first denied it, as my interest is in the organisation’s work. But sometimes god makes such arrangements. For the last 36 years I have been working selflessly for society. First as an RSS swayamsevak, and then with the BJP. I never dreamt of contesting any election, I always focused on party work, strengthening its ideology and carrying it forward. There is a saying — bin maange moti mile (you get pearls without asking for them). That is the case with me. The party has often given me responsibilities, I will meet this responsibility too.
It is the strength of the BJP that an ordinary worker who once worked at a booth has now become chief minister.
Of the nine ministers who took oath with you, five are Congress rebels. What was the need to induct them?
They are not baaghi (rebels). They left their ministries and came to us. They are tyagi (those who make sacrifices).
You were born in a hilly village. Migration from the hills is the biggest problem in the state. What plan you have to curb this?
If we provide health, education and employment in hilly villages, migration will stop. For employment we will focus on agriculture and allied activities like horticulture, animal husbandry and cultivation of aromatic plants. We will try to bring major changes, even policy changes, to provide medicare in interior villages.
Your party criticised the Congress for pushing the state into high debt. What is your agenda to ease the debt?
First, we will have to stop tax evasion. Our forest resources are a liability today. We do not have any income from forests today, not even to meet the salary of our (forest) employees. This when we have around 65 per cent forest land. We have minerals, but are unable to utilise them. Mining is taking place secretly. Similarly, there is major leakage in the hydro sector. We will identify such sectors and plug leakages. With mining alone we can change our situation.
How will you handle environmental issues?
We are already exploiting forests today. We can generate income from forests provided we stop leakages.
This state has seen many engineering and IT colleges since its formation. The state has no jobs for the graduates.
It is a major problem. Actually engineering colleges were set up as a mere commercial activity, not to produce engineers. In 2013-14, when I was analysing the state’s technical education, some 700 of the 1,600 colleges had closed down. But the way development is taking place in the country, a boom is expected in the manufacturing sector. Employment opportunities for these engineers will emerge.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath is from your district Pauri Garhwal. How do you find him?
Mahant Adityanath is a sanyasi. He has left his home. He lives in a mutt, that is his entire world. He should not be seen in this way — that he is from Pauri or Uttarakhand. Our leadership preferred his sacrifice.
What about his provocative speeches?
If anyone speaks truth and others find it provocative, then it is injustice to him. I know several such leaders who make highly offensive and aggressive statements, but they never face such questions. He is a sanyasi, therefore he faces such questions. I would like to know what wrong he has said. He is a dynamic, dabang, frank leader, he will be the best for a state like UP where law and order has been destroyed.