An interview with Akhilesh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
In an interview with Omar Rashid at his residence in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav attacks the Bharatiya Janata Party for the Muzaffarnagar riots, and justifies the re-entry of tainted MLA Raja Bhaiya in his Cabinet. Here are excerpts.
Who will you blame or hold responsible for the Muzaffarnagar riots?
I have said it many times before. Those who have even the slightest knowledge of the issue know that it wasn’t a Hindu-Muslim conflict. It was a different issue. One community attacked another. Everyone knows that. The Bharatiya Janata Party was in the background. Our agenda has been, and is, to stop communal forces. Our party is secular and development-based.
Will blaming the BJP after each such incident steer you to safety? Will it not hamper your image? It’s your government. You are responsible for law and order.
Why shouldn’t I blame them? The people must know who’s responsible. I can prove their (BJP’s) involvement in some of the incidents. I have evidence. It was the BJP’s game. It’s a democracy, they also share responsibility to uphold harmony. In Jhansi, they created a row over a temple. Both communities have for years lived in harmony there. But you go and fuel communal tension. Why create this divide? So unnecessary. Similarly, in Lucknow, communal tensions were fuelled after cow meat was dumped somewhere. Seers work on rituals and tradition. But some are breaking their own traditions. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP are one and the same. They know they can’t fight elections on development, [so] they have to resort to old tactics of communal polarisation.
Your party relies heavily on Muslims and promises them upliftment. But they are visibly disappointed with your government. They feel insecure.
It’s quite obvious. They will seek answers from the government. So many have suffered losses, of life and property. Both Hindus and Muslims suffered. Even Hindus were hurt. But at each and every step, we have done everything a government could. We have given them the same treatment. Both secular Hindus and Muslims agree that we took the right steps as a government.
Yet, the repeated incidents?
I agree there are issues. This is a democracy. But to communalise the situation, general incidents of crime are given a communal colour. We did what we could as a government.
Do you feel that your government has been let down by the bureaucracy?
No, not at all. If it was so, how would we have been able to execute our schemes? Laptop distribution, giving out Berojgari Bhatta (unemployment dole) and Kanya Vidya Dhan.
Many of your decisions have been contested in court. Your government has had to face several legal embarrassments. The issue of reservations in the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission is one case.
It’s a democracy. Everyone has the right to raise their point.
How do you intend to win back the hearts of Muslims, who are clearly disenchanted? We are fast approaching the 2014 general election.
They feel the party is their party. We work on the basis of secularism. We have launched schemes that focus on minorities. We gave them a share in development. Which other party has done that elsewhere in the country? Even the Constitution says we should work for the upliftment of the under-developed, give them reservation for development.
You have re-inducted controversial Kunda MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya) in your Cabinet, months after he received a clean chit in the DSP Zia-ul-Haque murder case. The Opposition has blamed you for again letting in tainted elements. As importantly, they say this was to appease the Thakur votes.
Why not? It’s a democracy and parties take steps to win seats. If it helps us, then sure we shall win seats. I give my assurances that nothing untoward will happen. No criminal activities. That’s what I can assure. We will be responsible.
Take a look at what the other parties are doing. Who knows what they are doing inside. It’s election time. Somebody is crying over his grandmother’s death. Somebody is shouting that his life is in danger, blaming the Indian Mujahideen. Everyone is playing.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has attacked you personally in his rallies in Uttar Pradesh. In Bahraich, he said that you had requested lions from Gujarat, and were more fond of safaris than development.
(Smiles) Mr. Modi uses our laptops during the rallies. He should at least appreciate it while using [them]. They got the laptops from us. Why don’t you get your laptops from Gujarat, I ask Mr. Modi. Even Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have started giving laptops.