What do you have to say about the political situation in UP?
Presently the scenario is totally against the BJP. And this fact is known to the BJP also. It is evident everywhere. For example, different types of groups such as the educated, unemployed, women, youth, farmers and other agriculturalists are also anti-BJP. Brahmins are totally against the BJP. They have understood this. A desperate meeting of the BJP’s top leadership with the party’s Brahmin politicians was held in Delhi on December 26. The BJP understands that Brahmins are against it. Brahmins have decided to go with BSP this time.
How is BSP’s preparation going?
BSP, I can tell you, is working on the booth level. Unlike other parties, our workers neither move on the roads nor take photographs. Booth committees have been established. There is a meeting everyday at every booth. Our style of functioning is different from those people who show off in newspapers and TV.
Where is BSP president Mayawati? Why is she not seen on the ground?
Behenji is working 18 hours a day. She is monitoring party work down to the booth level. She has already addressed two public rallies – one on September 7 and the other on October 9. More than five lakh people had gathered in her Lucknow rally.
But she has not started campaigning yet. When will she start addressing election rallies?
She will start campaigning very soon. She will visit every district of the state.
The BJP, SP and Congress are actively campaigning. But why does BSP seem to be lying low?
That is something that the media will have to answer later (when the results are declared).
What are the chances of BSP coming to power?
Looking at my tours of 2006, when I had gone to all districts, I am 100 per cent confident that this time the result for us will be better than what it was in 2007. We will win more seats than we had won in 2007 and we will certainly get a full majority. I have visited every district since July 23. I started my second tour 20-21 days back of all the 86 reserved seats. I have covered three-fourths of them. I can tell you that the response is terrific. In all the places I have visited, the people have decided not just to repeat 2007 (when BSP had won 206 of the 403 assembly seats) but surpass it this time. There were 84 reserved seats in 2007 and BSP had won 62. We lost the others with narrow margins. The result would be surprising and shocking for those forecasting it on TV.
BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra addressing a public rally in Uttar Pradesh.
What are BSP’s election issues?
Giving employment, improving health structure, giving benefits to the poor and the lower middle class, creating situations to bring back the migrants, generating employment in the state, improving law and order situation and doing away with the BJP government’s policy of “roko aur thoko (stop and encounter) are our main planks. The BJP spares its men but goes after the supporters of other parties. But we will not create any discrimination among criminals. We do not spare anyone, whosoever he is. When Behenji was the CM, she had got her party’s absconding Lok Sabha MP Umakant Yadav arrested and sent to jail in 2007. The lower court had found him guilty for capturing a woman’s land.
We have a wonderful track record of governance. Behenji introduced women police stations. The unemployment issue is so bad now but Behenji not only opened the doors in business but also ensured that the lower class, lower middle class and the reserved category people got orders and government contracts for work. Behenji has already said that the memorials and statues of saints and eminent personalities have already been constructed. Removing unemployment, undertaking developmental activities, improving law and order situation are our USP. The BJP has failed on these counts. Behenji created infrastructure but the BJP has spoiled them. The BJP takes decisions on the basis of religion. They have not worked. Now there are desperate attempts to lay down a number of foundation stones at the last moment. They should have laid them five years back. That stands exposed. They are putting expenditure on the government and making political speeches in such official programmes.
What about the vote bank this time? Will it be the same as in 2007 when BSP had created a rainbow combination of Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims?
Muslims will definitely be with us and not with SP this time. They know that SP stands exposed. In 2003 when their government was formed along with the BJP, the then assembly speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi approved the defection of 37 BSP MLAs to SP. However, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Then a few days back, (SP patriarch and Akhilesh Yadav’s father) Mulayam Singh Yadav was seen sitting with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and the Union ministers were standing close with folded hands. SP stands exposed. Moreover, there were 134 riots during Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure between 2012 and 2017, including Muzaffarnagar when SP leaders were enjoying an event in their bastion of Saifai. On the contrary, not a single skirmish took place during Mayawati’s regime, not even when the Ayodhya verdict was announced by the Allahabad high court. Our party’s motto is “Sarv jan sukhay, sarv jan hitaay” which has been copied and modified by the BJP as “Sabka saath, sabka vikas”.
The BSP fared badly in the 2014 Lok Sabha – when it did not win a single of the 80 seats – and in the 2017 UP assembly elections – when it came third after the BJP and SP. How will your party cover that ground?
But we did better than SP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election by winning 10 seats while SP won 5 seats. Moreover, we were the third largest national party in terms of vote share. This time 14 per cent Brahmins, 19 per cent Muslims and the backward castes and classes will vote for us because they have been treated badly by the BJP and SP. Moreover, our cadre vote has solidified.
Which party is your main rival?
We are directly contesting against the BJP. SP will be on the third number. The BJP is losing its ground. The BJP’s loss is BSP’s gain. BJP and SP have not declared a single seat as yet while BSP has already announced candidates for about 50 per cent of the seats. The remaining candidates will also be declared very soon.
Why is the BSP not aligning with any other party in the upcoming election? You had joined hands with SP in 2019 Lok Sabha election.
We are aligning with the people – all people and all castes. As in 2007, we will work for the poor. The other parties are forging alliances because they are weak.
How do you see Congress’s chances?
Congress is nowhere in the picture. It creates only drama and indulges in theatrics.