‘I AM ABSOLUTELY IN CONTROL OF THE AFFAIRS OF GOVERNANCE’

The recent victory in the byelections has turned the tide in favour of the Samajwadi Party. The young Akhilesh Yadav is a man with a mission. Excerpts from an interview with Hardnews

Sanjay Kapoor Lucknow 

The Uttar Pradesh Government led by the Samajwadi Party represents perhaps the most significant secular non-BJP space in the country after Narendra Modi came to power in Delhi and other states. How has the installation of the new government in Delhi impacted your government?

The Samajwadi Party is indeed the strongest secular party of Uttar Pradesh–which is the largest and politically most sensitive state of the country. Our party has the mandate of the electorate. The people of UP have again reaffirmed their faith in the Samajwadi Party and its government during the recently held Assembly byelections. Thus, the installation of a new government at the centre has made no impact on the state government. I would like to mention that the federal structure of our Constitution lays stress on harmonious relationships between the centre and the states. Therefore, I am confident that, in the interest of the people of Uttar Pradesh, our government will get full cooperation from the Union Government. 

You have blamed the central government for the power crisis in Uttar Pradesh. The state was in the throes of a serious power crisis even when the Congress-led UPA was in power. How is it different now?

The power crisis in UP is the cumulative result of the Centre’s discriminatory attitude and the apathy of the previous state government. Our government is making serious efforts to mitigate the problem and make Uttar Pradesh self-sufficient in its energy requirement. Regretfully, the approach of the Union Government is still the same. Recently, I met the Union Power and Coal Minister regarding the pending issues at GOI level. I am hopeful that the meeting will yield positive results. 

Communal violence reared its ugly head in Uttar Pradesh after the SP came to power in 2012. It peaked in Western Uttar Pradesh, leading to the communal polarisation that eventually resulted in a BJP victory and destroyed earlier paradigms. Why did your government fail to stop this violence when it was hurting your support base?

You have rightly used the word ‘polarisation’. Communal and divisive elements have deliberately made efforts to create fissures in society. However, due to our government’s continuous efforts, these forces have not succeeded. Barring a few incidents, which were promptly controlled by the government, the situation has by and large remained peaceful. 

The minorities and backward castes comprised the foundation on which the edifice of the Samajwadi Party was built. The fierce rise of communal forces has made this vote irrelevant. How is it impacting governance in UP?

The Samajwadi Party has always worked for the rights of Dalits, backwards, minorities and other weaker sections of society. These marginalised segments are still closely associated with our party. The Samajwadi Government does not discriminate on the basis of caste, religion, class or region. Thus, we are committed to providing a responsive, transparent, progressive and non-partisan government for the people of Uttar Pradesh.

 

The BJP almost swept most of the Lok Sabha seats in the general election. Then, the SP managed to do well in the bypolls a few months later. What changed?

The electorate was swayed by the false promises made by the BJP during the Lok Sabha polls. However, people soon became aware of the tricks of this party. The result was the thumping victory of the Samajwadi Party during the Assembly byelections. 

In 2012, you were seen as a young leader who represented the hopes and aspirations of the youth of UP. Then we saw a precipitous decline in popularity with your detractors claiming that you were no longer in control of your government. Why did you slip?

I am absolutely in control of the affairs of governance. After due deliberations, I take appropriate decisions. Due to the efforts of the Samajwadi Government, Uttar Pradesh is rapidly progressing on the path of development. 

Uttar Pradesh has a major image problem. It is seen as backward, chaotic, poorly governed, and so on. What is your government doing about it?

The Samajwadi Government is successfully changing the perception of Uttar Pradesh. This change is for the better. Leading entrepreneurs, industrialists, diplomats and other dignitaries have shown keen interest to contribute in the state’s progress. 

There is a serious law and order problem in the state. The police has proved inadequate in preventing violence against women and Dalits. What is your plan to improve law and order?

Keeping in view the fact that Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India, the law and order scenario has remained peaceful during the Samajwadi regime. However, certain elements deliberately try to create a false negative image of UP. The Badayun incident vindicates my point. I would like to reaffirm my government’s commitment for the rule of law. We have seriously dealt with perpetrators of heinous crimes against women and Dalits. The government is successfully implementing the ‘1090’ Women Power Line, which has benefited a large number of women and girls. This novel scheme has been copied by several state governments. Besides, serious efforts are being made to modernise the police force. State-of-the-art control rooms at Kanpur and Lucknow are examples of the government’s endeavour for better law and order. 

Serious questions pertaining to corruption have been raised against ministers and bureaucrats by none less than Mulayam Singh Yadav. Why is no action being taken against them?

We have taken stringent action against the corrupt. Simultaneously, the government is promoting information technology for better governance and more transparency. This will have a retarding effect on corruption. The government’s commitment towards clean and honest administration can be judged from the fact that the Laptop Distribution Scheme was executed in a fair and transparent manner with zero complaints of corruption. 

Even the Lokayukta report that proposed action against some corrupt ministers of the earlier government as well as the various structures that it constructed has not been acted upon. We will take appropriate action in due course of time so that the cases become strong in the courts. 

What are you doing to put UP on a par with more affluent states like Gujarat and Karnataka? How are you reaching out to investors in India and abroad?

The Samajwadi Government is making efforts to bring Uttar Pradesh on a par with other developed states. However, we are of the view that every state has to evolve and adopt a model of development which is unique to its circumstances and needs. Accordingly, the state government has made sincere efforts to attract indigenous as well as foreign investment.

The government has implemented various investor-friendly policies. These policies have attractive provisions for investors. In June this year, an Investors’ Conclave was organised in New Delhi. During the event, MoUs of more than Rs 54,000 were signed with various investors. At present, a number of infrastructure projects are being executed in UP. They include Metro Rail projects in Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Noida-Greater Noida. Besides, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, IT City, dairies of Amul and Mother Dairy, a Cancer Institute, the Medanta Medicity are in the pipeline. I am confident that the efforts of our government will put the state on a high-growth trajectory. 

The SP is rightly engaged in putting together a non-BJP national opposition. Do you think there is a glue to stay together till the next elections? How do you take on the rise of Hindu nationalism and build a credible opposition to the BJP?

Socialist policies can combat communalism and usher prosperity in the country. The national president of the Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav, is actively engaged in bringing together leaders of like-minded parties to check the menace of communal and divisive politics. I am convinced the Samajwadi Party will be successful in its endeavours.

Follow Sanjay Kapoor on twitter

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: DECEMBER 2014