Under Swatantra Dev Singh’s leadership, the Uttar Pradesh BJP scripted an electoral victory last month. Singh, who also holds the Jal Shakti and Flood Control portfolio in the state Cabinet, was appointed to the post in July 2019 and is set to step down. He tells The Indian Express how, because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the discourse of other parties had shifted from “appeasement of Muslims” to nationalism, and looks back at his stint as the UP BJP chief.
In the new government, each department is making a presentation before the Cabinet about goals for the coming days. What are your department’s goals?
The chief minister’s (Yogi Adityanath) decision of holding daily presentations has the benefit that every minister is getting a holistic picture of the state. In the past five years, remarkable and significant works have been done from the economic and social points of view. All the ministers are becoming informed about every department. They are getting their concepts clear about what our government has done in five years and what has to be done in the days to come. My department’s goals are water storage, availability of water to farmers in all crop seasons, and ensuring water till the tail (of canals) and refilling ponds with water. I have already chalked up a work plan for these goals. The fourth goal is nal aur swachh jal (clean tap water) in every household by 2024. The progress in this direction is satisfactory and these tasks will be completed on time. The life of every officer, employee and minister of the department will be blessed when water is provided to fields (for irrigation) and individuals (for drinking). The timelines of 100 days, six months, two years, and five years have been set to meet these goals.
An important change has happened in the past five to seven years since Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) started leading the nation. Before Modi, the focus was on casteism, appeasement of Muslims, corruption and nepotism, and anti-national forces were active. Since Modi has taken charge, the discussions have been about the welfare of the poor and nationalism. Now, the discussions are not about the appeasement of Muslims but about nationalism and making the nation strong. Hence, all the other parties are gradually changing themselves. The nation is witnessing growth under the leadership of Modi ji. People who support the ideologies of old Communists and Kejriwal, they have got a message that the politics of Muslim appeasement and abusing Hindus should come to an end. There is a need to move ahead with the spirit of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas’ instead of casteism, regionalism and religion.
But the issues of Muslim appeasement and nationalism were dominant only in the BJP during the recent Assembly poll campaign.
People’s thinking has changed because of the new leadership (of Modi). Thoughts have changed in Kashmir too. Where is terrorism and who is pelting stones at the Army? In Kashmir, people are becoming self-reliant and villages are being developed. People are getting clean drinking water and houses. Now, people have the spirit that the nation belongs to them and they have realised their responsibilities.
How do you see your term as state president?
Brought the party back to power, recorded a bumper win in the MLC polls, and good results earlier in the Assembly by-polls. It happened because of the hard work of party workers on the ground. Now, I am in a new role (a minister). Till the time I remain state president, I will look after the preparations for the urban local body polls.
During summer, people generally face a drinking water crisis. After that, floods happen during the monsoon. How has your department prepared for these challenges?
All the programmes in view of the floods have been started. The tender process and further work have started. Certain works will be completed by June 15 and some other projects to control the floods will take shape. There are proper arrangements to ensure that floods do not cause loss of life and crops. Ponds are being refilled for animals.
Have you conducted any review of the projects in the Bundelkhand region?
The progress of works there is satisfactory and the prime minister is likely to inaugurate a tap-water facility in villages in seven districts of Bundelkhand, and the Mirzapur and Sonbhadra districts of the Vindhya region in June-July. It is possible that the scheme with a deadline of 2024 gets completed in these nine important districts in early 2022.
Is there any such timeline also for the promises the BJP made in its Assembly election manifesto?
There are timelines of 100 days, six months, two years and five years (for different promises). We will fulfil all the promises of the ‘sankalp patra (manifesto)’ on time. We are dedicated to the service of the poor. Timelines have been set for all the tasks. The CM has set goals for every department.