Ironic that BJP promises to make UP free of crime after fielding maximum number of tainted candidates: Azad
Saiyed Danish for IndiaTomorrow.net,
Lucknow, March 03: ‘Who does more ‘gundagardi’ (hooliganism) than BJP? I’m sure they have no answer to that. It is ironic that a party which has fielded maximum number of tainted candidates claims to make UP free of crime,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, in an exclusive interview with IndiaTomorrow.net.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What is the reason behind the alliance with Samajwadi Party?
A. It is not only SP. I think, everybody must accept the fact that for the first time, there are four players in the UP elections. For almost three decades, there were only two players: SP and BSP. BJP was just a new entrant and the Congress party had lost that glory. The scenario changed since 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP secured 73 seats out of 80 parliamentary seats in the state and based on this result they believe that they can grab power in Uttar Pradesh also. They have been working towards this goal for the past two and a half years. Similarly, last year, the Congress party also decided that we will stage a comeback so we started our work on a big scale and decided that we are going to fight election to come back to power. So we launched our campaign with Rahul Gandhi’s Kisan Yatra and put a lot of observers in UP from outside who reported back to higher echelons of the party on the preparations of assembly elections. Thus, now there were four players - SP, BSP, BJP and the Congress party. The closer the elections reached, the more we realized that it will be tough for any one party to win the elections alone. We were coming to a conclusion that the range of seats secured by each party would remain between 90-110 and no one would have a clear majority. So we explored in our own ways and CM Akhilesh Yadav was also exploring in his own way that he could not go alone this time. Hence, his willingness to have an alliance with the Congress and our assessment about the elections.
Q. Did the scenario of Akhilesh Yadav emerging from the political feud with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav proved as a catalyst in bringing SP-Congress together?
A. Yes, definitely that helped us. However, initially even he was not sure about his own victory and there was a possibility that the feud could be resolved but we had decided that even if the outcome is not in the favour of Akhilesh, we will go with him only.
Q. Congress party is blamed for targeting Muslims during the election in the name of ‘firqaparasti’ of communal parties. Many leaders, including Asaduddin Owaisi, see it as what he termed ‘lollipop of secularism’ to Muslims.
A. Congress party is a secular entity. This is a time tested party. We do not take sides. Muslims know what we have done for them. Even today wherever we go, Muslims welcome us from the depth of their hearts. Leaders of other parties are only envious of us because Muslims are titled towards alliance this time. I think that Muslims have largely benefited from SP government schemes.
Q. During its campaign ‘27 saal, UP behaal’ Congress had earlier raised Muzaffarnagar issue to corner SP. After the alliance, has this serious issue been put on back burner by your party?
A. On Muzaffanagar issue, I know that it was an unfortunate crime and I personally feel for the victims and that is why the SP and Congress party are together so that we can defeat the opportunist and communal forces. Other than that we are not raising Muzaffarnagar issue or that of the people killed or hanged by the BJP foot soldiers publicly because then BJP would raise cow slaughter and other issues and the result will be polarization. BJP is waiting for us to get into this and we are avoiding it.
Q. How do you see Mayawati as a challenge in UP in the light of wooing Muslim votes?
A. Mayawati ji definitely has her own share of support among the people and we are taking her seriously. But at this moment, people are looking at the SP-Congress alliance. Her move of giving 100 tickets to Muslim candidates will sadly act as spoiler in the election. Plus, she also has a history of siding with the BJP. So her 100 ticket move is a charade at best.
Q. Did the Congress party reach out to Mayawati first for a pre-poll alliance?
A. Yes, of course. There is no hiding the fact that we approached her for an alliance but you know that she herself ruled out any question of alliance. She does not want anybody to go along with her or share the power because she is very insecure. She does not even share power with her own colleagues and ministers.
Q. There are talks that the SP-Cong ground workers share a ratio of 75:25 during the campaign and at places, even Congress rallies have been dominated by SP cadres. Are Congress workers low on morale?
A. No, there is no question of low morale of Congress party workers. I admit that I find more SP workers on the ground than my own party. It is true that their presence is more numerical and they are working hard. The cadres of both the parties are not separate anymore, so the question of one party’s workers dominating the rallies of its ally is an attempt of rival parties to create rift in the alliance but far from achieving it, they should first look at the demoralized cadres of their own organizations.
Q. From PM Modi and Rajnath Singh raising the issue of Shamshaan-Kabristan and surgical strikes to Vinay Katiyar, Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj bringing up Ram Temple to garner votes in the election, do you think these issues will impact the common man?
A. We are all proud of surgical strike done by the army but never before any party tried to win election by using Army as a bait for votes. These are efforts to reap up the emotions of the people in the name of patriotism. They act as if they are the sole guardians of our country’s pride. Regarding Shamshaan-Kabristan issue or that of Ram Temple, it simply shows their frustration. It is their true face which they hide in the name of development. In reality, no one is more anti-development than BJP.
Q. Crime is one of the main issues of BJP in this election as it seems evident from their ads in which they target ‘Gundaraj’. Amit Shah also accusing the Congress party of siding with the criminal-minded Samajwadi Party. How is your party dealing with that?
A. I want to ask them this: ‘Who does more ‘gundagardi’ (hooliganism) than the BJP?’ I’m sure they have no answer to that. It is ironic that a party which has fielded maximum number of tainted claims to make UP free of crime.