Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav spoke to NDTV’s Dr Prannoy Roy and senior jounalist Shekhar Gupta on this year’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP’s accusation of dynastic politics, on the day the state entered its sixth phase of polling.
Here is the full transcript of the discussion:
Akhilesh Yadav: We are doing whatever we can. Now my voice has also gone
Shekhar Gupta: Now that you are losing you voice, you’re sounding more like your father
Akhilesh Yadav: No, no look at this (points to his head) for the real bottom line
Shekhar Gupta: Tell us what’s the difference between this year’s campaign, and the one from last time?
Akhilesh Yadav: This time there’s more enthusiasm and energy. All the public programmes I have done till now, I have not seen such enthusiasm. People in large numbers have attended the programme, even if they weren’t invited or not. This is the first election where I am seeing people coming out of their own will. We want change, but more than us these people want change.
Prannoy Roy: I agree with you, I’ve never seen such enthusiasm, such josh. But the BJP is dividing people on the basis of Hindu Muslim, is that working?
Akhilesh Yadav: They tried to do it in Kairana, they tried in Muzaffarnagar. They wanted this kind of division to happen from the first phase itself. Look at the language they use. Look at the kind of speeches their leadership is giving. Listen to the kinds of things they are saying. But, I, along with our party, have been asking the fundamental questions right from the first day. If we were talking about riots in the first phase, then in the second phase too we were raising issues of relevance. Today we are in Ballia, so we’re discussing issues related to Ballia, like there should be a medical college here, it should be connected to the expressway. The mandis have not procured anything from the farmers here. The big issues here are inflation and unemployment. This is the fate of many young people here.
Shekhar Gupta: They are asking for jobs, he’s also asking for jobs.
Prannoy Roy: The BJP is saying, with you the law and order will worsen.
Akhilesh Yadav: No, if you look at the NCRB statistics, the maximum number of unsafe, unprotected women are in UP, the maximum number of fake encounters is in UP. If the IPS is missing in action, it is in UP. A businessman in Gorakhpur, which is the Chief Minister’s constituency, is killed because of extortion. Custodial deaths are the highest here. So, what law and order are they talking about?
Shekhar Gupta: But if you talk to the local people, they say there were a lot of cases of kidnapping, ransom, people were picked off the streets, but it doesn’t happen anymore.
Akhilesh Yadav: Check the timeline for yourself. The same day that the Prime Minister was talking about rampant crime and kidnappings of the past in UP, that day a child was kidnapped in Agra. The businessman father could not pay Rs 25 lakh as ransom, and two days later his child was killed. Even today, any newspaper you read, will carry reports of crime and of our daughters being harassed on the streets.
Shekhar Gupta: If you win the elections this time, how will your new government be different from the last time you were in power?
Akhilesh Yadav: When you become Chief Minister for the first time, you learn a lot of new things. Now for five years, I have been a part of the opposition. We had an opportunity to run the government, if the people give us another opportunity, I think we will be able to work even better for Uttar Pradesh this time. And we have worked. Thanks to the vision of the Samajwadis that the Prime Minister was able to land in a Hercules helicopter on the roads of UP. Had this been their vision, tell me this is is there any road in Gujarat that is good enough for a Hercules to land on it.
Prannoy Roy: Prime Minister Modi has said that you are keeping it all in the family, he’s not doing that.
Shekhar Gupta: But he says that 42 people are of his family
Prannoy Roy: But the people will decide whether you are family or you are leader, right?
Akhilesh Yadav: I heard the speech he gave in Ballia. He spoke about family and nepotism 15 times in his speech. And in the whole day, he must have spoken at least 25 times about extreme nepotism. I want to ask him that just because nobody is talking about his family, does not mean he does not encourage that. How has the son of his second-in-command entered the world of cricket? Yogi Adityanath, the current Chief Minister, if his uncle wasn’t in the mutt, perhaps our Chief Minister wouldn’t have been heading the mutt either. When the Prime Minister was giving his speech on families and nepotism in Ballia, did he not see the former MP from here standing next to him? Is he going to forget about Jyotiraditya Scindia? Two of his aunts are in the BJP. Whose son is he? Whose son is the Chief Minister of Karnataka? If he doesn’t have a family, what can I do?
Prannoy Roy: Are you not scared? These people can do anything. Do you feel a bit scared?
Akhilesh Yadav: That time has gone. They raided us. They thought we had money. If we had the money, we would have grabbed the centre stage. Our leaders would also fly in helicopters.
Prannoy Roy : Wave to them
(Akhilesh Yadav turns around to wave, the crowd roars)
Prannoy Roy : This is enthusiasm
Akhilesh Yadav : I haven’t seen an election like this before
Shekhar Gupta: So, you are saying that if there was no nepotism, Yogi Adityanath wouldn’t have become the head of the mutt?
Akhilesh Yadav: Yes, he couldn’t have become head of the mutt. Because his uncle was in the mutt, he was able to grow and progress. I don’t know why they forget about the family ties of their own party. A former Chief Minister’s son was an MP, he was a minister. The defence minister’s son is an MLA. There are a lot of dynasts in the BJP, but they just can’t see it.