Interview with Akhilesh Yadav: I learned how to defeat the BJP
Q/ Half of this election is over. How do you measure public opinion?
A/ Since the BJP is in power, a current of 440 volts crosses the electorate against him. Of course, the party does not realize this. The first question he must answer is: why is inflation so high? So how is it that, despite the much-vaunted “twin engine”, there are no jobs. The youth of the state is ready to uproot the tracks along which its train of lies passes.
When the farmers presented their demands, forgetting to listen to them, they (the BJP) erected barricades, sealed off the roads, called in all the (police) forces they could and called the farmers terrorists and mawalis ( disreputable characters). 700 of them lost their lives. It took them (the BJP-run Center) this long to take back black laws. When the SP rath (tank) started moving from Ghazipur to Lucknow (Nov 2021) the government was petrified [by the crowds we were attracting]. Elections were looming in Punjab and UP, so they had no choice but to withdraw the laws.
BJP leaders keep saying A for this, B for that (Yogi Adityanath had said “Abba jaan” to allude to the SP’s preference for Muslims during his rule), but I only say this:” Kaka” for Kaale Kanoon (black laws). Kaka is gone and now it’s Baba’s turn to go. I heard that he had already booked a flight ticket to Gorakhpur.
Q/ Where is the SP after three rounds of voting?
A/ In the first two phases, we have reached the century. With the fourth phase, we will end another century. We will obtain our majority in these four phases. Then we will go beyond.
Q/ The kind of language used in this election is regrettable. Why did politics come to this?
A/ As a child, we were taught that when we start to get upset when we sense the possibility of defeat, we use foul language. The BJP uses the language of a loser.
It is the responsibility of the Election Commission of India to keep a check [on this]. Our PM is highly educated, as is [Home Minister] Amit Shahji. They should use good language and set a precedent. Instead, watch what their party candidate in Domariyaganj said. (Raghvendra Pratap Singh, the incumbent BJP MP for the constituency, had said that Hindus who do not vote for the BJP must have Muslim blood in their veins).
There is an IG (Inspector General of Police) in Lucknow who pressures voters to choose the BJP because her husband is a candidate (the reference is to Rajeshwar Singh, an ex-BJP official). law application). We filed two complaints with the ECI, but no follow-up was given.
Q/ You have concluded two crucial alliances in the west (with the Rashtriya Lok Dal) and in the east (with the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj party). Which do you think will be the most beneficial?
A/ It’s a very different election. It is the public who are fighting against this election against the BJP. And, in each phase, people only worry about one thing: how to get more votes for the SP and its allies than the previous phase. We only stand in solidarity with the public with our regional allies.
Q/ Which new voter awaits you in this election?
A/ All of our voters are new voters. As I say, Nayi hawa hai, nayi Sapa hai (it’s fresh winds, it’s a new SP). Our alliance partners have won us the votes of many castes. I would go so far as to say that there is no caste that did not vote for us in this election.
Q/ Is there a possibility of a post-election alliance?
A/ I don’t think it will be necessary; we will get a majority.
Q/ Don’t you think that an alliance (with the Congress or the Bahujan Samaj party) would have prevented a split in the anti-BJP vote?
A/ In this election, the only concern of the people is how to defeat the BJP. The only alternative they see is the SP. Look at how badly BSP and Congress fared in the last election.
Q/ After the BJP, who is your biggest competitor in this election?
A/ There is no other part in the count.
Q/ There has been some anger in your party over ticket distribution.
A/ All anger and resentment are over. Those who got tickets are campaigning with the support of other party workers. I saw that on the pitch, in all phases. In Sirathu (where the contender against Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is Apna Dal (K)’s alliance partner Pallavi Patel), all of the ticket contenders were on stage together.
At the start of any election there are disagreements, but all of these are resolved quickly… I told the ticket candidates to decide among themselves who deserved the ticket the most. I asked them to settle it over a meal. If they still couldn’t decide, then that was my call.
Q/ What did you learn during the years you were without power?
A/ I learned to defeat the BJP. I learned that the farmers, the poor, the youth, the traders and the workers are the decision makers. There is no formula that can work beyond them.
Here (in his office) I sit facing [idols] gods. Look at all the photos of Yogi ji; the images of the gods are behind him. So basically he’s showing his back to the gods. That’s wrong. Even God is with us in this election.
Q/ Besides the anti-election, what works for you in this election?
A/ People believe we can do the job. It is this trust that brings us votes. During the pandemic, it was the infrastructure we created (hospitals, ambulance service, police hotline) that benefited people the most. There were so many people from different neighborhoods who told me they had never flown, but the highways we created helped them get home during lockdown….
Look at what this government is doing. Where are the smartphones he promised? The tablets they distributed are farzi (fake) and do not [have] the specs they promised. But it will inevitably happen when Baba ji himself does not know how to use a tablet. As the audience looks in one direction, they look in another.
Q/ You are a member of the family. How does this influence your policy?
A/ Listen to the language used by the BJP. How is it justified for them to talk about Neta ji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) as they did? (SP Singh Baghel, Karhal’s BJP candidate, said senior Yadav was forced to campaign for his son). If Neta ji is with me, they are embarrassed, if he is not with me, they are still irritated. We didn’t talk about anyone’s family in the countryside. The public notices all this.
During the pandemic, I read a report about a woman who was walking from Maharashtra to Lalitpur (Uttar Pradesh) and was due to give birth. She rested for only three hours and resumed walking. I called a party employee at 6 o’clock in the morning and asked him to help me immediately. I said to him ‘If the police arrest you (lockdown was in effect) make them talk to me’.
That day, our worker gave the lady 20,000 rupees. Later I sent 01 lakh for her. We gave Rs1 lakh to 90 families whose members had died trying to return home… It was not our responsibility but the government’s, yet we did our duty because we have empathy. These are just a few examples that I share to illustrate my point that only a father can understand the pain of another family. Those who call us “pariwarwadis” and live alone can never understand the pain of a family.
Buses sent by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (General Secretary of Congress) were stopped at state borders, but we received buses from Chennai with people who wanted to go home. My instructions were clear: wherever the police stop buses, regardless of state, they must be paid for the buses to continue the journey. We had to do it because we understood that it was the only way to do anything in this government.
Q/ Being called “pariwarwadi” should then be a compliment.
A/ Unfortunately, the connotation of the word in Hindi is different from that in English. Their intention is to say that we only promote the family in the party.
Q/ How are you different from your father? One of the complaints against you is that you’re not as approachable.
A/ I am my father’s son and I share his ideology. My father did the best he could in his time. Neta ji pledges to support and strengthen the party as it moves forward.
That I am unreachable is another lie created by BJP and RSS. I recently spent six hours on my feet to allow many party workers to take pictures with me. Tell me about another leader, in any party, who did something similar.
Q/ You are the only known face of the party at the national level, so the whole campaign is centered on you. What do you do to relax?
A/ I’m not saying that. That would be blowing my own horn. There is no need for relaxation. But I talk to friends.
Q/ Has this government done any good?
A/ They let the bulls roam the roads. It was a sight we had never seen before. The best thing they did was they didn’t do anything worthwhile, and that’s why we’re going to win this election. We have built the office (Lok Bhawan) in which the Chief Minister sits, our government has purchased the couch he is sitting on, and the helicopter he is flying in. It inaugurates projects that we have initiated. It’s a good feeling.
Q/ What will be your immediate priorities if you form the government?
A/ Construction of infrastructures and employment. We want to build a bigger and better infrastructure than what we did last time. Remember, we went beyond our promises and even launched the Purvanchal highway, which this government inaugurated.
As for employment, it is hard to find if the chief minister of the state claims to work 24 hours a day. This means that he takes away the work of so many others. We have innovative ideas for employment.
For example, just as we have shiksha mitra (para teachers), we will have mitra (friend) to protect the environment, our rivers and water bodies, and the Sarus crane (the state bird). We will build media facilitation centers in each tehsil and regional media centers which will also create jobs. We will implement a Trader Protection Commission that will create thousands of jobs. Our manifesto contains details on how we will rejuvenate the MSME sector to generate one million jobs and also how we will create 22 lakh high quality IT jobs.
We not only want to watch history for pride, but also connect it to employment. Look at a simple product like the Firozabad bracelets: one person removes the molten glass, another works on an “engine” to shape it, someone else sells it, and someone else wears it. It brings together people of all castes and religions. This is what we want to bring back to this state. We don’t want the BJP to come back because they have no respect for democracy.