India Today - - COVER STORY -

SHORTLY af­ter the conclusion of cam­paign­ing for the sec­ond round of polling for the Ut­tar Pradesh assem­bly elec­tion, a con­fi­dent and as­sertive AKHILESH YA­DAV met with Group Ed­i­to­rial Direc­tor RAJ CHEN­GAPPA, In­dia To­day (Hindi) ed­i­tor ANSHUMAN TI­WARI and ASHISH MISRA at his res­i­dence in Luc­know. The UP chief min­is­ter spoke on a range of is­sues— from the fight within his fam­ily to the al­liance he has forged with the Congress. Excerpts from the in­ter­view...

Q. Af­ter the first few rounds of polling, what kind of out­come are you ex­pect­ing?

Q. Did it oc­cur to you that be­fore the elec­tion bat­tle, you’d have to bat­tle the fam­ily and the party? A. I had no idea I would face such a sit­u­a­tion. But I be­lieve that, in pol­i­tics, if your goal is big and you want to ac­com­plish it, you need to be pre­pared for ev­ery sit­u­a­tion.

Q. Was the hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tion a turn­ing point for you?

A. The SP gov­ern­ment be­gan work­ing with full re­spon­si­bil­ity from 2014, though prepa­ra­tions had be­gun ear­lier. It took us time to sort out the mess the pre­vi­ous BSP gov­ern­ment had left. Since there was no in­dus­trial pol­icy, there were no in­vest­ments. More money was spent on mon­u­ments so the ini­tial days of my gov­ern­ment were spent ar­rang­ing for money in the bud­get. We had huge li­a­bil­i­ties. The pre­vi­ous BSP gov­ern­ment had started many schemes; had I dis­con­tin­ued them, I would have been ac­cused of stalling the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment’s

A. It’s much bet­ter than be­fore. I’m sure the SP-Congress al­liance will emerge num­ber one with the max­i­mum seats. Ini­tially, there was con­fu­sion among vot­ers. But the coali­tion has al­layed their fears and we will get a con­sol­i­dated vote. Our ri­vals ear­lier were talk­ing about vic­tory mar­gins, now they are not sure they will win. It’s ev­i­dent in their re­ac­tion. Lis­ten to the prime min­is­ter’s speeches, and Amit Shah’s, and Mayawati’s. The BJP lead­er­ship sounds rat­tled. Just to­day, the PM said he wants to buy a ticket and ride in the metro. Arre, you are the prime min­is­ter, you should know the pro­ce­dure. You have to fol­low a 90-day manda­tory stan­dard pro­ce­dure af­ter the train is put on track. If the rail­ways gives us the NOC (no ob­jec­tion cer­tifi­cate), we will start trans­port­ing peo­ple in the metro from to­mor­row.

At least, the pub­lic has faith that the Sa­ma­jwadi Party de­liv­ers. Wide roads have been con­structed in western UP, elec­tric­ity is avail­able 24 hours in homes. The am­bu­lance ser­vice is trusted. A mod­ern po­lice con­trol room has been es­tab­lished for the first time, the po­lice are on call and can reach any spot in 10-15 min­utes. Med­i­cal col­leges have been built. The Sa­ma­jwadi pen­sion scheme is on. The lap­top scheme has been a suc­cess. The im­prove­ments are vis­i­ble to the peo­ple. It has cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment in favour of the SP... and our get­ting to­gether with the Congress has given us the im­age of be­ing a pro­gres­sive party. It has pro­vided a strong, sec­u­lar plat­form.


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