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Keshav Prasad Maurya: ‘Loudspeakers peacefully removed from temples, mosques… Oppn makes provocative remarks, law and order in UP is fine’

In an interview with The Indian Express, UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya talks on the loudspeaker row, development plan for Mathura and the recently concluded assembly elections, among other issues.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow |
Updated: May 5, 2022 7:31:54 am
UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya (Express file)

The Uttar Pradesh government has removed nearly 54,000 unauthorised loudspeakers from religious places. A statewide drive undertaken to remove unauthorised loudspeakers from religious places and set the volume of others within permissible limits had begun on April 25. In an interview with The Indian Express, UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya talks on the loudspeaker row, development plan for Mathura and the recently concluded assembly elections, among other issues.

The BJP has more traction among urban voters. You hold the Rural Development portfolio. How do you plan on strengthening the party’s base in rural areas?

I am grateful to the leadership for assigning the (Rural Development) department to me. A team has been constituted to make a roadmap for a ‘smart village’ where residents will have all the basic facilities. In the last panchayat elections, young and educated boys and girls were elected as pradhan. In the current financial year, one such (smart) village is being developed in each of the 823 blocks across the state, where young and educated pradhans will help in developing the village as a model village. Later, representatives of other villages will be invited to these model villages to showcase the development.

Has there been any discussion at the government level on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)? All India Muslim Personal Law Board has opposed the idea.

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There were some important issues like Article 370, Ram Janmabhoomi, Uniform Civil Code, are part of the BJP’s ideology. We have never backtracked from that. Did everyone support the decision to revoke Article 370? That move was not only opposed but even promises were made (by the opposition) that Article 370 will be restored when they come to power. Did everyone support Ram Janmabhoomi (movement)? The apex court gave the judgment and a grand temple for Ramlalla is being built. For UP and the country… the (UCC) is one issue that is still incomplete. Who is supporting it or who is opposing it, that is not important. It is not a subject related to the state government. It will be discussed when it will become the subject of the state.

If you read the constitution of the BJP and the proposals of party’s national executive committee meetings, all these issues have existed since Jana Sangh (days), and we have not stepped back on any of the issues. We should wait.

Before the elections, you talked about development of Mathura. What is the plan?

The 84-Kosi Parikrama Marg of Mathura-Vrindavan is being developed. A roadmap for development of the Braj region has been prepared and development of the birthplace Lord Krishna is priority of every Krishna bhakt. We have developed all religious places. Dispute and development are two (different) things. Baba Vishwanath dham has been developed. The dispute related to Gyanvapi mosque has not been resolved yet. But that does not mean that we will not develop Baba Vishwanath dham. There is a similar dispute in Mathura. Dispute is one part but development is another aspect. We will do development work…Dispute will be resolved by the court.

In the UP elections, the Samajwadi Party (SP) tied up with other OBC parties and recorded an increase in seats as compared to 2017 while the tally of the BJP (plus allies) came down. Did you lose out on OBC support?

Certainly they (SP) got some votes by telling lies and talking about backward (communities). But their lies were exposed. Backward classes strongly stood with the BJP. They are with the BJP and will remain with the BJP in the future too. Akhilesh Yadav (SP president) has achieved the highest point of his political career in 2022.

You lost from the Sirathu Assembly constituency. What is your assessment of the results?

As a BJP candidate, I received the highest votes in the history of Sirathu. But the BSP and Congress surrendered their support to the SP.

The result was that we lost by small margin of nearly 30,000 votes on three seats of Kaushambi district. There are some other factors too for that small difference but I do not find it appropriate to discuss those factors.

The government has launched a drive to remove loudspeakers from religious places. The opposition says that such drives and discussion on the Uniform Civil Code are ways to divert attention from basic issues such as unemployment, inflation etc.

The opposition are making such claims because they are frustrated with the defeat (in elections). The way loudspeakers have been peacefully removed from temples and mosques and sound of permitted loudspeakers has been reduced across UP, that is an example for the entire country.

Opposition always makes provocative remarks but the law and order in UP is all right. No untoward incident has happened and I hope that no one will do anything in the future as well.

Who complained about the loudspeakers and what is the benefit of such a drive?

At various places, voices were raised, that the loudspeakers were causing inconvenience and noise pollution… Everyone either removed (the loudspeakers) voluntarily or gave their consent for removal. I congratulate the police and administration in the districts for this.

You didn’t get the Public Works Department (PWD) portfolio this time. Were you upset?

If I had PWD again, I would have been building only roads. And I would have been deprived of the opportunity to understand the pain of villages and remove it. I demanded this department (rural development and village development) and it was given to me. I express my gratitude to the leadership for this.

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