Following the political tumult in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the assembly elections early next year, the Bahujan Samaj Party feels it has acquired substantive political prominence than its contenders in the recent weeks. Economic Times caught up with BSP supremo Mayawati for an exclusive interview in New Delhi. In her volley of sharp responses, she made it clear that SP was no longer in the contest and the Muslim vote had gravitated towards BSP. Excerpts:
Which party is your principal rival for the 2017 polls?
Sapa toot rahi hai. Ab mare ko kya maarna. Lekin ek baat hai BJP bhi ghabraayi hui hai (The Samajwadi Party is breaking up. So there is no point in flogging a dead horse. But it is obvious BJP too has been unnerved by this). The break-up of Samajwadi Party is not good for BJP. But it all bodes very well for us. As far as SP is concerned, we don’t think they are even in the contest.
Why do you say that BJP is scared and how will that help BSP?
The Muslim voter is no longer in two minds. The BJP tried to project SP as main rival because of this. It thought Muslim vote will be divided. But due to the break-up in SP, there is no more confusion. Ab Musalman poori tarah se hamaare saath aa gaye hain, koi doubt nahi hai, woh ab two minds mein nahi hain, aur isliye BJP ghabrayee hui hai (The votes of the Muslim community has fully shifted to us. There is no doubt in their minds. They are not in two minds any longer. And that is why BJP is very scared). In fact, we have information that BJP is in a state of shock.
But don’t you think the feverish campaign that the BJP is building, with the PM leading from the front, will be a big advantage for it?
Didn’t you see the flop show at Mahoba (PM’s rally)? There was hardly any crowd. Television cameras don’t show it. And this area is in the Bundelkhand region, which is a confluence of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (BJP is in power in MP). Still, he got such an ordinary response. And the PM made a mockery of himself by talking about SP-BSP friendship. People can see through this.
What can BSP offer to the Muslim voter who has always looked at Mulayam Singh as his leader?
We have a long-standing relationship with the Muslim community. They have seen my governments in the state, my governance. Unhone dekha hai ki maine apne shashan kaal mein kabhi bhi koi nai parampara nahi hone di (They know for sure that I never started any new custom during my tenure).
By ‘new custom’ did you mean something like your stand on the triple talaq, where you have said the Muslim community should be left to make its decision?
Yes! Governments should not interfere. What is also important for them (Muslim) is law and order. The record of my government is before you. I have always ensured that law and order was maintained during my tenures as Chief Minister of the state. Feeling of security is important, particularly now. Dange fasaad nahi hone chahiye (We have to ensure there is no rioting and violence).
Do you see the BJP making gains following the surgical strikes carried out by the Army?
Ab uska credit sena ko dete…par woh party to sirf Modi ko hi credit dena chaahti hai. Unke khud ke defence minister yeh kahate hain ki attack ka credit Modi ko jaana chaahiye (They should have credited Army for it…but that party only wants to credit Modi. Their own defence minister says that Modi should be credited for the attack). They have just forgotten the jawans. They are the ones who fight. And let me add that the problem in the border is not over. Just the other day there was another serious incident (beheading of an Indian soldier on the Line of Control). More attacks are happening. Matters have not come under control after the surgical strikes. Our jawans are getting killed. BJP needs to worry about it before trying to seek credit. The situation on the LoC and border is still quite tense.
Does that mean that the recent surgical strikes will have no resonance with the electorate?
People are observing all what is happening They can understand the intention to reap political mileage in the coming assembly polls. But these tricks don’t work anymore. Ab Modi ki (unki) jumlebaazi nahi chalegi (Modi’s slogans and one-liners won’t work now). The credit for the surgical attacks goes only to the Indian Army. It alone deserves full praise for such an operation.
What’s your response to BJP’s campaign pitch on corruption-free governance and better law and order?
Ye (Amit) Shah Etawah ki ek meeting mein kah rahe the ki law and order UP mein kharab hai. Par maze ki baat yeh hai ki woh Kalyan Singh ke shashan ko wapas laane ki baat kar rahe the. Ab waah! Jiske shaasan ke dodhai saal mein President’s rule state mein lagoo ho gaya, uski baat kar rahe the. (Amit Shah in his Etawah meeting spoke of bad law and order in UP. He spoke of bringing back Kalyan Singh’s rule in UP. Now this is splendid. They talk about an administration that lasted two-and-a-half years, after which President’s rule had to be imposed in the state). Do they think the people of Uttar Pradesh are so fools? They fully understand what all this means.
What about the speculation on BSP’s understanding with Congress?
We must be clear about this. I had extended unconditional support to the UPA government just to keep communal forces away from power. It was an outside support. BSP was never part of the government or enjoyed the benefits of the regime. The UPA government was corrupt and Congress was punished by the people. Those involved in corruption are now out of the power. We have nothing to do with them. Hum sirf sampradayik takaton ko bahar rakhne ke liye unse jude the (We only wanted to keep communal forces out).
Will 2017 be the most-significant elections of your political career?
For me, every election is equally important. That is how I have approached all elections. I always take each one of them very seriously. That’s the way to keep the party organisation strong too. Earlier, Manyawar Kanshi Ramji used to take care of that part and I had more time to do other things, including dealing with the media. But now I have to take care of organisation, elections, campaign, everything. So, yes, every election is significant for me.
What are your plans for industrial growth and revival in Uttar Pradesh?
Business people have always liked my administration because we gave the best law and order. The other thing industry requires is uninterrupted power supply. I will work towards meeting UP’s energy needs. If we get these two things right, I am sure industry and business will automatically follow.
Source : Does PM Narendra Modi think people of UP to be fools? asks Mayawati
Courtesy : Economic Times – Opinions