‘Yes, the stone elephants, we will feed them sugarcane!’

Conversation with Akhilesh Yadav 

Sadiq Naqvi Bijnor 

What has been the response in this part of the state which is not a SP bastion?

Before I came here, we were initially of the view that our presence in this particular area is weak and we were not very hopeful. But post my yatra, we have been getting a warm reception from all quarters. We have taken up issues concerning the public and the people are responding positively.

They are viewing SP as a good alternative to the ruling regime. I believe that they will certainly give us a chance in this election.

What is the future strategy?

I will continue this yatra in all the four phases of the election. I will try covering as many constituencies as possible.

 

 What are the chances of a post-poll alliance with Congress?

At this point it is difficult to say if we would enter into a post poll alliance with the Congress. We did not enter into an alliance before the elections and we will secure a majority on our own. We will have no need to
align with anyone.

 

 What is your prediction? How many seats will SP get this time? How many from western UP?

My prediction is that we will be able to get a little above 200 seats. Even if you see western UP, we are faring much better than the last elections. We will be ahead of the rest in the places which go to poll in the first phase in this area. Even if you look at Bijnor, we did not win even one out of the total seven seats in the last polls. This time the situation is much better. Even if we get two seats out of eight, it will be a great achievement.

 

 Who will be the chief minister if SP is voted to power?

Undoubtedly Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav)!

 What are the issues in this election?

There are burning issues. Netaji brought three sugar mills to this particular area, and many to other parts of the state. This government sold them for a song. The government did not give good rates for the sugarcane crop. Fertilisers and pesticides have gone out of the reach of small farmers. This government has totally destroyed the farmers. These are some issues directly connected with the people of this area.

If you look at something as essential as medicine for the poor, the ministers of this government are being raided by the CBI, they are being sent to jail, the government had to remove so many ministers on charges of crime and corruption, so all these issues are there against the Mayawati regime. I have seen myself that people are very angry with this BSP government.

 

 You mentioned medicine. Recently, in a public meeting in Moradabad, you said that ‘Is sarkar ne shaam ki dawa bhi mehengi kar di hai’ – a clear reference to alcohol. Wasn’t it against the directives of the Election Commission?

I meant this government also extracted money from the liquor business. I won’t mention the details. But everyone knows what and whom I am referring to.

 

 Many say that if the SP is voted to power, there will again be ‘goonda raj’. How are you going to deal with this perception?

People say this because they have no other means or arguments to malign SP. If people really think so, then I want to assure them that we are socialists. We won’t allow and tolerate any disturbance in the law and order of the state.

 

 You continue to support Raja Bhaiyya, who many see as a criminal…

Raja Bhaiyya is not a criminal. Certain people have built this image. Has he killed anyone or done any other crime? There are so many poor people who support him. Anyway, he is not a SP member. We support him and that too because he has no criminal background.

 

 What do you say about DP Yadav? He wanted to join SP. Is there any rift?

DP Yadav’s game is over. He has not been able to enter SP. He said I am a kid because I did not allow him to enter. Had I allowed him, I would have been the leader! It is a closed chapter now and there is no rift in the party as many would want to believe. Netaji made it quite clear.

 

 Will smaller parties like Peace Party be able to damage the prospects of SP?

The people know that these small parties can’t form the government. The people desperately want a good government. I don’t think these small parties will have any major role to play. Let the results come, we will see how much damage they cause. 

 

 Is there a Rahul Gandhi effect in UP?

No doubt, he has done a lot of work. But he has no one to follow it up after his campaign. There is no second line of leadership.

 

 Did the Anna campaign have any impact?

The issue is dead now. There will be no impact at all. The people have realised that Team Anna’s proposals are anti-people too, like the proposal to have Group C and D employees under the ambit of Lokpal!

 

 What will happen to the monuments built by Mayawati if you are voted to power? The stone elephants, her own statues…

There will be no wasteful expenditure of this sort if we come to power. And yes, the stone elephants, I can only say that we will feed them sugarcane! Let’s see if they eat!    

 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: FEBRUARY 2012

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