‘Akhlaq killing un­for­tu­nate but law and or­der govt’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, not pub­lic’s’

UP BJP chief Ke­shav Prasad Mau­rya is con­fi­dent of the party win­ning 2017 polls, calls SP their only com­pe­ti­tion, and says not hav­ing a CM can­di­date won’t hurt

The Financial Express - - IDEA EXCHANGE -

SHYAMLAL YA­DAV: Af­ter the de­feat in Bi­har, what is the BJP count­ing on for a vic­tory in Ut­tar Pradesh? There are two re­gional par­ties in UP – Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) and the Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP). The gov­ern­ments of both these par­ties have been bad for the state. As the pres­i­dent of the UP BJP, I have trav­elled across the state and met peo­ple and party work­ers. I can say with con­fi­dence that the 2014 suc­cess (the NDA won 73 out of 80 seats in UP in the gen­eral elec­tions) will be re­peated in 2017 (polls are ex­pected early next year).

SHEELA BHATT: You were con­fi­dent be­fore the Bi­har elec­tions too. But like Ni­tish Ku­mar and Lalu Prasad joined hands to de­feat your party, what if the BSP and the Congress come to­gether in UP? The Congress has no stand­ing in UP. The BSP can­not be­come a com­pe­ti­tion for the BJP by join­ing hands with the Congress. But yes, the SP is our com­pe­ti­tion and we are work­ing to take them on. Un­der the lead­er­ship of Akhilesh Ya­dav, the SP gover nment has be­come a bur­den for the peo­ple of the state. Just look at the protests and other po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties con­ducted by the Congress and BSP... you can’t com­pare them with what we have done. BSP lead­ers have done noth­ing in the past years ex­cept for call­ing press con­fer­ences and giv­ing state­ments in news­pa­pers.

SAN­DEEP SINGH: The SP seems to be in resur­gent mode af­ter the 2014 gen­eral elec­tions. They have been fo­cus­ing on devel­op­ment and growth. Do you see a threat there? The only dif­fer­ence be­tween the SP of 2014 and 2016 is that the as­sets of its mem­bers would have in­creased. Go to any vil­lage in Ut­tar Pradesh and you will find that even the per­son who makes ban­ners for the SP is a rich man. Land mafia, min­ing mafia, liquor mafia, they are all pros­per­ing un­der the SP gov­ern­ment. Law and or­der is a big prob­lem in UP, yet 55% of po­si­tions in the po­lice force are va­cant. The prob­lem is so grave that gun­das are not afraid of the po­lice. There are over 1,500 cases of po­lice­men be­ing beaten up by them. Over 150 po­lice­men have died dur­ing Akhilesh Ya­dav’s ten­ure.

LIZ MATHEW: Caste plays a big role in UP pol­i­tics. When you were made UP BJP chief, many Brah­min lead­ers in the party were up­set. The BJP is not a caste-based party. In the past, we have had great lead­ers in UP from both back­ward and up­per castes. The Congress does all its po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions on the ba­sis of caste and the na­tion is tired of it. Akhilesh Ya­dav hasn’t been fair to peo­ple from his own caste, un­less they are from Saifai, Etawah and Main­puri. No BJP worker thinks in terms of caste. The BJP is one unit, one fam­ily, and if we weren’t so, the sup­port that you see for the party in the state would not have been pos­si­ble.

ANAND MISHRA: Is it enough to bank on Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s pop­u­lar­ity for votes in UP? In Bi­har, where you didn’t have a CM face, you lost. The rea­son we find our­selves in a favourable sit­u­a­tion in UP is be­cause the BJP stands as one... Yes, I agree that we were taken aback by the Bi­har re­sults— it’s an­other mat­ter that jun­gle raj is back in the state—but we won in Haryana, Jhark­hand and Ma­ha­rash­tra, where we didn’t have a CM face. Yes, we had a CM face in As­sam, but that’s how it works. It de­pends on the sit­u­a­tion.

SHYAMLAL YA­DAV: You ac­cuse your ri­val par­ties of dy­nasty pol­i­tics. Re­cently, how­ever, Pankaj Singh (Ra­j­nath Singh’s son), Gopal Tan­don (Lalji Tan­don’s) and Ra­jveer Singh (Kalyan Singh’s) found a place in your team of of­fice-bear­ers. See, Pankaj Singh has been a party worker for the past 20 years. He has worked for the party with­out ever fight­ing elec­tions. If some­one has been work­ing for the party for that long, I don’t see it as dy­nasty pol­i­tics. Sim­i­larly, Ra­jveer Singh and Gopal Tan­don... If they have worked for the party and proved their worth, then we con­sider them for posts. If the fam­ily mem­ber of any­one in the BJP has worked for the party for 10, 15 or 20 years, is he sup­posed to go to the BSP, SP or Congress? You know about the Gandhi fam­ily as well as the sit­u­a­tion in Mu­layam Singh’s fam­ily and how peo­ple in their fam­i­lies get pref­er­ence in terms of get­ting tick­ets. But the BJP doesn’t work like that.

SHEELA BHATT: You were ap­pointed UP BJP chief though you have a se­ri­ous crim­i­nal case against you. (Mau­rya was named an ac­cused along with three oth­ers in the 2011 mur­der of a farmer. The four were ac­quit­ted on May 21, 2015, af­ter six wit­nesses in the case turned hos­tile.) I have been proven not guilty in the case that you are talk­ing about. Ke­shav Prasad is not a crim­i­nal, nei­ther does he have a crim­i­nal mind­set. I will al­ways fight against crim­i­nals. Un­for­tu­nately, a per­son was killed and that ac­ci­dent was por­trayed as mur­der. The case was a po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy against me so that I don’t speak or protest against the BSP.

COOMI KAPOOR: The BSP, SP and Congress have CM faces. Won’t the lack of a CM can­di­date be a hand­i­cap for the BJP? The Congress has de­clared its can­di­date, but it’s of no use be­cause the party is dead in UP. The BSP hasn’t de­clared any can­di­date be­cause as long as Be­henji (Mayawati) is around, no other per­son can even think of stand­ing against her. As far as the SP is con­cerned, there will be some­one from the fam­ily. If I talk about the BSP, then let’s just say that Be­henji keeps amass­ing wealth and the poor man in UP is still poor. She thrives on any in­ci­dent that harms the Dal­its... She has never done any­thing to help the Dalit or the poor. She wants to buy their votes, sell their votes...

HAR­ISH DAMODARAN: Why are par­ties not speak­ing about the prob­lems of sug­ar­cane farm­ers? It’s the BJP that takes up most of these fights, whether it’s for wheat or sug­ar­cane farm­ers. Look at Haryana, where there’s a BJP gover nment. There is not a sin­gle ru­pee out­stand­ing to far mers. But why are there un­paid dues in UP? The Prad­han Mantri Fasal Bima Yo­jana is a sig­nif­i­cant scheme for farm­ers, but Akhilesh Ya­dav has not taken a sin­gle step to­wards im­ple­ment­ing the plan. At auc­tion houses for farm­ers, there is no trad­ing. What­ever pro-farmer steps you see have been taken by the Cen­tre...

Any­way, if there is no law and or­der, how will there be any in­dus­try? If a big in­dus­tri­al­ist comes to UP to in­vest in land and busi­ness, he is not even sure his land will stay se­cure. Land-grab­bing is ram­pant. There is no at­ten­tion be­ing paid to farm­ers, and un­til that hap­pens, there will be no progress in UP.

Speak­ing about youth em­ploy­ment, there are more than 700 en­gi­neer­ing col­leges in the state from which 1,65,000 stu­dents grad­u­ate ev­ery year. If the gov­ern­ment can­not pro­vide em­ploy­ment to even 1,600 of them, then does Akhilesh Ya­dav de­serve to run the gover nment?

He has never taken up devel­op­ment with any se­ri­ous­ness. At the re­cent in­ter-state coun­cil meet­ing (in July), the chief min­is­ter of UP was miss­ing. If he had come, he would have had to show some plans for progress. Seven state high­ways of UP which have been con­verted into na­tional high­ways have not been granted a no-ob­jec­tion cer­tifi­cate for com­ple­tion by the gov­ern­ment, be­cause if they get com­pleted be­fore 2017, what will hap­pen to the cy­cle (the SP’s sym­bol)? The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s only in­ter­est is to en­sure that the credit for projects goes to the SP. They print huge ads in news­pa­pers claim­ing credit. The pub­lic can see through all this.

P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: In the last two years of the BJP gov­ern­ment at the Cen­tre, there has been no ma­jor in­crease in em­ploy­ment lev­els. A re­port by the labour min­istry shows that lev­els have, in fact, fallen. See, the prob­lems you are talk­ing about dif­fer from state to state, and so they are the state gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity. Akhilesh Ya­dav has never taken the is­sue se­ri­ously... If we speak about elec­tric­ity, the state with the most power out­ages is Ut­tar Pradesh. Un­til in­dus­try and in­vest­ment come, there isn’t much a gov­ern­ment can do to al­le­vi­ate un­em­ploy­ment. But you need to de­velop an en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages in­vestors. If in­vestors are go­ing to Gu­jarat, Mad­hya Pradesh, Jhark­hand and other states, who is at fault? Akhilesh Ya­dav. He has failed as a CM and has be­trayed the youth of the state.

MANEESH CHHIBBER: For some time now, your party has been try­ing to en­gage with the Dal­its and other back­ward castes. But with in­ci­dents such as Una in BJP-ruled Gu­jarat (July 11, when Dal­its were beaten up for skin­ning a dead cow), what makes you think the Dal­its will sup­port you? Such in­ci­dents are de­plorable and I com­pletely op­pose them... The BJP never dis­crim­i­nates on the ba­sis of caste or reli­gion. We have al­ways be­lieved in sabka saath, sabka vikas. We are not op­posed to Mus­lims nor do we want them to leave the coun­try. We recog­nise that In­dia has many parts and peo­ple in each of these parts have as much right to live here as any­one else. It is also our re­spon­si­bil­ity to up­lift the dis­en­fran­chised and en­sure that ev­ery­one pro­gresses to­gether. Elements from the Op­po­si­tion go among peo­ple and spread mis­in­for ma­tion. They go to the Mus­lims and say ‘Be­ware, the BJP is com­ing. Vote for us or they will de­stroy you’. Dur­ing the elec­tions they said Modiji would drive away the Mus­lims if hecame­topower.To­day,Mus­lim­scansee the progress the coun­try is mak­ing and feel se­cure. We have de­vel­oped ex­cel­lent re­la­tions with neigh­bour­ing Mus­lim na­tions—of course, if Pakistan does some mis­chief, In­dia will have to ad­dress it. But within the coun­try, if any per­son from any caste or com­mu­nity faces ha­rass­ment, there are am­ple pro­vi­sions in the law to en­sure that jus­tice is done.

LIZ MATHEW: You said the BJP had devel­op­ment as its agenda. The party is tak­ing out tiranga ya­tras. Why not a kisan ya­tra or a prog ress ya­tra also? When the gov­ern­ment com­pleted two years, PM Modi spoke in Sa­ha­ran­pur about the progress we have made. The BJP also ran a cam­paign, Gram Uday to Bharat Uday, in which party lead­ers went to 40,000 out of 55,000 vil­lage coun­cils and in­formed them of the steps taken by the gov­ern­ment to im­prove the lives of women, farm­ers, the poor and other sec­tions of so­ci­ety. So in that sense, the progress ya­tra has al­ready started and this will stop only when we have achieved all our goals. But I would like to say that if Ut­tar Pradesh gets left be­hind, the progress of the na­tion will go lack­ing. As for the tiranga ya­tra, I wel­come it be­cause it en­sures that we cel­e­brate In­de­pen­dence Day with the pub­lic.

ANAND MISHRA: You said you were con­fi­dent of a BJP win in UP. But while Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav can bank on the Ya­dav vote, the Jatavs will vote for Mayawati, the Congress has pro­jected Sheila Dik­shit for the Brah­min vote and Ni­tish Ku­mar is con­tin­u­ously cam­paign­ing against the BJP. Also, as­sum­ing the Mus­lims are un­likely to vote for the BJP, where do you see the votes com­ing from? What you said about Mu­layam and the votes he gets, they are not his to keep. The area I was voted from, let me tell you, peo­ple there are very an­gry with the Akhilesh regime. So we will get a large num­ber of votes from the Ya­davs. As for the Jatavs, Be­henji her­self be­came rich, but there has been no up­lift­ment of the poor liv­ing on the streets. Naren­dra Modi was the chief min­is­ter of Gu­jarat for 12 years, see his bank ac­count; Be­henji wasn’t CM for so long, see her bank ac­count. The point is that peo­ple, re­gard­less of caste or creed, do not want cor­rup­tion and scams. They all want progress and good lives, which will never be pos­si­ble un­der the SP. Be­cause all they can cre­ate is chaos and vi­o­lence. If we talk about the Dadri case, why was there so much mis­man­age­ment of the sam­ples sent to the gover nment lab?

MANEESH CHHIBBER: You have raised the Dadri case. Why should peo­ple take law into their own hands and beat up and kill some­body who al­legedly had beef in his fridge? That was an ex­tremely un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent and I con­sider it a fail­ure on the part of the UP gov­ern­ment. It is the gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to main­tain law and or­der, not the pub­lic’s. The state gov­ern­ment should have re­alised these are sen­si­tive is­sues and should have taken steps to pre­vent such in­ci­dents. And even if such in­ci­dents oc­cur, these should be dealt with swiftly and ef­fec­tively. This is some­thing the state gov­ern­ment has not been able to do, and I think even the ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cials are aware that the SP won’t re­turn to power this time. If Akhlaq’s fam­ily had, in fact, con­sumed beef, then the law should have been al­lowed to take its course. And the peo­ple who are guilty of the crime should also be pun­ished. While this was even­tu­ally done, it was af­ter a long de­lay. Akhilesh has not ful­filled his du­ties as CM and we’ll soon be bid­ding him farewell.

SAN­DEEP SINGH: You seem con­vinced that Akhilesh will be voted out, but does the BJP have a plan for the state? What is needed to re­vive the state is an en­vi­ron­ment free of fear, some good gov­er­nance, proper law and or­der, op­por­tu­ni­ties for youth and no cor­rup­tion. We al­soneed­toim­proveth­elotof our­farm­ers. They should get full value for their crops. We need in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion also. In five years, we will make a lot of progress.

SHEELA BHATT: On the Akhlaq killing, is it jus­ti­fied to file a case against his fam­ily af­ter the fa­ther has been so heinously beaten and slain, even if, as­sum­ing, they broke the law? Such in­ci­dents in Ut­tar Pradesh are de­plorable, but the rule of law has to be main­tained. If I do some­thing wrong, I should be pun­ished for it. Ev­ery­one needs to be ac­count­able to the law, whether it’s Ke­shav Prasad Mau­rya or a fam­ily. There are a lot of deaths in this coun­try and I would not like to com­ment on those. If the gov­ern­ment had been more vig­i­lant, none of this would have hap­pened.

ASHUTOSH BHARDWAJ: The RSS re­cently held a big con­fer­ence in Kan­pur and sent a se­nior mem­ber to Lucknow. What ex­pec­ta­tions of help do you have from them in the com­ing elec­tion year? The RSS has been around since 1925. I my­self am a swayam­se­vak and we have cer­tain du­ties. We serve the peo­ple, not a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity.

SHYAMLAL YA­DAV: Do you think that if the Mayawati gov­ern­ment hadn’t come to power in the last 10-15 years, the Dal­its would have been as em­pow­ered as they are to­day? If you ever meet Mayawati, you should ask her this. In re­al­ity, she hasn’t done any such thing. All she has done is cre­ate a wall be­tween Dal­its and non-Dal­its and in­cite fights be­tween them. It’s not enough to get them to do daily wage work. She has only filled her cof­fers. I’m sure she thought up to a few months ago that she will be for ming the gover nment, but now it has be­come clear to every­body, in­clud­ing her, that that’s not go­ing to hap­pen.

We are not op­posed to Mus­lims... We recog­nise In­dia has many parts and peo­ple in each part have as much right to live here as any­one else”

CHEENA KAPOOR

Ut­tar Pradesh BJP pres­i­dent Ke­shav Prasad Mau­rya (right) with Shyamlal Ya­dav of The In­dian Ex­press

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