At Panchayat Aaj Tak – UP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spoke about the 2022 Assembly election, his opponents, Covid, minority, law & order and more.
At Panchayat Aaj Tak – UP in Lucknow on Friday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spoke about the 2022 Assembly election, his opponents, Covid, minority and law & order. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Are you Yogi Ji or Raj Yogi?
I’m both Yogi and Karm Yogi.
Q: Karm Yogi’s biggest test is about to begin? How are you assured to return to power in UP?
This will happen. For you, this election may be a litmus test. But we have faced a new test every day. We have instilled confidence in each citizen through widespread development in Uttar Pradesh. This has been done under the leadership of the Prime Minister across the country. We have changed the state’s perception by taking the benefits of the schemes to people who remained deprived of them for decades. There should be no doubt that the BJP will repeat the 2017 feat of the total majority in UP. 2019 in UP was the biggest challenge. Experts and media talked about the Mahagathbandhan. We all saw the results. 2022 will repeat 2014, 2017 and 2019. Only BJP will get the blessings of the people of Uttar Pradesh.
Q: Looks like the slog overs have started – foundation laying, inauguration. What will be decisive – 4.5 years or the last six months?
Foundation laying and inaugurations have been going on since Day 1. When we came to power, we waived off Rs 36,000 crore worth of loans taken by 86 lakh farmers, and started a process of development. A lot of Central government schemes could have been implemented in Uttar Pradesh. Swachh Bharat Mission’s success depended on its success in UP because the maximum number of people deprived of toilets lived in UP. The previous UP government in 2.5 years couldn’t build even 43 lakh toilets. Our government had to build 2.61 crore toilets in 18 months. We turned it into a movement and built 2.61 crore toilets in a year. A vast chunk of the population didn’t have houses. In four years, 40 lakh people have got houses without discrimination. We provided 1.38 crore people with free electricity with help from the Central government. Before March 2017, reports of hunger death used to come from UP. But after that, not one person has died of hunger. Every 3-4 days, UP had a big riot and professional rioters enjoyed government patronage. In these 4.5 years, there have been no riots in UP. The change in perception has boosted investment, industrialisation and employment. The unemployment rate in UP is the lowest in the country.
Q: Akhilesh Yadav was here a while ago. He said BJP always lies – UP is number 1 in terms of unemployment, malnutrition, hunger deaths. He says your government didn’t set even one power plant, didn’t wave farm loans; you inaugurated projects that he had started.
We had said Ram Lala ham ayenge, mandir wahin banayenge. Temple construction has started. His abbajan used to say – ham parinde ko bhi par nahi marne denge.
Q: He said he is a bigger Hindu than you…
The world knows who is lying. They fired upon Rambhakts. A magnificent temple will be ready in three years. Everyone knows about the farm loan waiver. Poorvanchal Expressway was going to be a living memorial to Samajwadi Party’s corruption. Work was yet to start because land hadn’t been acquired. We acquired land and will finish the project by the month-end. He didn’t build Yamuna Expressway, his Bua Ji did. We completed the project. We’re building more expressways; they can say they had also dreamt of them. They didn’t have the capacity to implement. Before March 2017, no UP city had Metro connectivity. Now four cities do. Metro will also start operations in Kanpur and Agra by November 2021. We have started India’s first waterway, between Haldiya and Varanasi. During Corona, we exported our farmers’ vegetables and fruits.
Q: Akhilesh Yadav claims his party will get 400 seats…
Dreaming is good. I’m surprised why he didn’t say 500. Total seats are 403. But you can say anything.
Q: He said your manifesto is money-festo to make money…
They were making Poorvanchal Expressway at Rs 15,000 crore. We’re making it at Rs 11,000 crore. Where was this Rs 4,000 crore going? This must be asked. And we started work after a gap of two years. This shows how big their fraud was with the people of UP. The youth had an identity crisis. I want to ask Akhilesh Ji… Had Azamgarh elected the good Bhojpuri artist Nirhua, Azamgarh would have moved on to the path of development. Azamgarh hasn’t seen the face of its MP during both waves of Covid-19. When the leader is not among his people during a crisis, then what kind of leader is he? They were all in self-quarantine. He went out for some time on his BMW cycle for a picnic. People know your misdeeds, you can’t fool them.
Q: Ram Lala ham ayenge, mandir wahin banayenge can’t be the answer to the unemployment question. You convince people with your smile that you’re the best.
I didn’t say I’m the best.
Q: So many fronts are open – farmers’ issues, Covid… How will 300+ be possible?
It will happen. You said it.
Q: I said unemployment…
The unemployment rate is the lowest in UP. There are allegations in all recruitments these two [BSP and SP] governments did between 2007 and 2017. Courts had to act. Between 2012 and 2017, all recruitments were controversial. We have given government jobs to 4.5 lakh youths in 4.25 years. No recruitment can be questioned. 1.61 crore youths have got jobs after investments came. 60 lakh youths have got self-employment through schemes like Start-up India and Stand-up India. During the lockdown, 40 lakh people came to UP. We skill-mapped everyone and linked them with industry and NGOs. Those who didn’t have skills got toolkits and resources from us.
Q: Then why are issues like population control, religious conversion and love jihad raised before elections?
These are part of the process. We’re not doing these for the first time. We recently busted a gang spread across 25 states. They targeted deaf and dumb children. They then targeted their families. Coded messages were circulated through WhatsApp. The design was to misuse them as suicide squads. All steps we have taken are in the interest of the 24 crore people of the state.
Q: Did you lose sleep when bodies floated in the Ganga?
Every death is painful, Covid or non-Covid. You can’t compare a pandemic to ordinary flu. The country was fortunate to have the Prime Minister’s leadership. The way we have fought Corona… Some organisations may not accept it but the world is. Bodies didn’t float in the Ganga for the first time. This happened in 2012 and 2014 too. There is a community that immerses bodies in rivers. You can’t ignore there were non-Covid deaths too.
Q: Opposition says there were unaccounted Covid deaths and your government did a cover-up by burying bodies in sand…
Why will we do any cover-up? There is no need for us to hide facts. What we did is in front of everyone. When the first Covid case came, there were zero test facilities in UP. During the second wave, we were doing 4 lakh tests a day. Isn’t it an achievement? We didn’t have isolation beds. Our teams weren’t trained. Today we have 2 lakh Covid beds. All information is online. We have done it with full honesty, commitment and moral accountability to people.
Q: Did you regret that preparations weren’t enough during the second wave?
We were facing a pandemic and not any ordinary flu. My whole team and I got infected while facing those situations. But we didn’t abdicate our responsibility. We didn’t hospitalise ourselves. We remained connected with people. I reviewed everything even then. There was an oxygen shortage. But UP with a population of 24 crore people was getting 700 metric tonnes of oxygen. And Delhi with a population of 1.75 crore people was getting 800 metric tonnes. When the Centre started an audit, the Delhi government backtracked and its oxygen demand came down. There were also fake oxygen demands to create negativity and panic. Our model has been acknowledged by the WHO.
Q: Akhilesh ji said he hasn’t taken the vaccine…
But his abbajaan has. 5.28 crore people in UP have got the vaccine. And more than 2 crore people even in the 18+ group have received shots.
Q: It’s said Brahmins are angry with you...
The people in UP have risen above dynasty and caste.
Q: Muslims feel the laws you’re bringing are to target them…
We’re not enacting laws for any person, caste or religion. We do it for the security and betterment of the 24 crore people of the state. Agar koi tod-fod karega, aagjani karega, toh kya ham aarti utarenge?
Q: So, your style of law and order will continue? Gaadi yun hi paltegi?
Agencies will decide how to establish the rule of law for the security and honour of the 24 crore people of the state.
Q: What are your instructions? Gaadi palat ti hai…
Accidents can happen. There are no two opinions. Accident kisi ka bhi ho sakta hai. What are you saying?
Q: Akhilesh ji says if a top 10 list of mafias is made, everybody knows which party they will be from…
He’s right. Every child knows. People respect BJP workers. This is not the same for Samajwadi Party workers. You can’t expect they will go somewhere and won’t create a ruckus or resort to arson or loot. This is how they are. He’s right.
Q: He says bulldozer culture is yours…
If somebody has encroached, will we plead before him?
Q: Why are you unable to mollify Rajbhar?
I always talk with a smile. When agendas change, we also have to change our way of talking.
Q: In the Unnao case, why did the BJP leader get government protection? In Hathras, the victim’s body was forcibly cremated…
You’re twisting facts. In both Unnao and Hathras cases, my government took action. We referred the case to CBI. We made arrests. CBI is taking the same line, not a step further. There was nothing forcible. Matters are in court. Sooner or later, the truth will come out. It’s sub-judice. We should not do a media trial. My government is fully committed to protecting every daughter and sister.
Q: Farmers’ agitation. Do you think Western UP will become a challenge for you and Jaats will now not support you?
I don’t do caste politics. I don’t have a family. People know that there is security because of BJP. In Western UP, you saw riots every day before our government. The farmers’ agitation shouldn’t be linked to caste. In the last seven years, the Modi government has done unprecedented work for farmers.
Q: Your party is cautioning Rakesh Tikait…
Delhi is the national capital, while Lucknow is the state’s capital. We will have to know the difference between the two first. We will definitely welcome Rakesh Tikait. A farmer will come, he will be welcomed. And if someone breaks rules, they will be welcomed accordingly.