MSY-Akhilesh Tussle Not Scripted: Kalraj
Minister says RLD not a spent force in western Uttar Pradesh
Kanpur/Auriya: The Mulayam Singh Yadav-Akhilesh tussle is not “scripted”, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is not a spent force in Western Uttar Pradesh and there is no such thing as seniority in the BJP when it comes to a CM post or Rajnath Singh would not have become one ahead of me, says Union minister Kalraj Mishra. ET spent Monday with Mishra as he did a whirlwind chopper tour of Farrukhabad, Auriya and Kanpur for rallies in seats going to the polls on February 19.
At 75, the Deoria MP is the oldest workhorse for the BJP in this campaign. The age, however, does not hamper his enthusiastic speeches or his 5:30 AM wake-up routine followed by 45 minutes of daily yoga.
After a quick breakfast of kauchauri, boiled potatoes and jalebi at his Gomti Enclave residence in Lucknow while running through a dozen newspapers, Mishra arrives at the airport. Here, he runs into BJP president Amit Shah and minister Anupriya Patel in the reserved lounge — the melting pot of netas of various political hues these days before flying out on either of the 10 choppers parked at the airport. When asked if he was the most experienced CM face for BJP now as Rajnath Singh had said he was not interested in a second innings, he says: “It is not about being a senior or a junior leader, it is party strategy and a parliamentary board deci- sion. If seniority had ever counted... Rajnath Singh mukhyamantri nahi hote , main hota (Rajnath would not have become CM in 2000, it would have been me) because Iwas senior to him.” “The party had then asked me but I said ask Rajnath Singh. So let the party decide now too.”
Contrary to what his party claims, Mishra in his rally speech at Auriya says he does not believe the SP family feud is scripted. “It is a fight for the chair. Akhilesh has side-lined his father. I can see the pain on Mulayam’s face. He fought Congress tooth-and-nail and also objected to the alliance,” Mishra said.
Later, he told ET that the Mulayam-Akhilesh fight is not pre-planned. “When you reach a big post, doubts surround you. Many people instigate you,” he says, referring to Akhilesh. “It is a tussle for power. All maryada is gone. It is sad,” he adds. He says BJP has not done badly in Phase 1, as it is widely being speculated, but admits that RLD is still a force. “We are in close fight in over 40 of the 73 seats. RLD has a vote percentage in West UP — but I don’t think they have hurt BJP. We have got Jat votes too. However, some thought RLD is finished... I don’t think so. RLD has a vote share like it had in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Our assessment is after taking RLD into account,” Mishra says.