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Was not campaigning, but still went to temple. No one can stop me: Yogi Adityanath

"The Modi wave is even bigger this time," said Yogi Adityanath.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath told Aman Sharma in an interview that the BJP alone will win 74-plus seats in the state in this election, higher than that in 2014, saying the Modi wave is even bigger this time. Dismissing the SP-BSP-RLD alliance and active role being played by Congress party’s Priyanka Gandhi, he emphasised that the BJP will win Amethi and Azamgarh too. Excerpts:

How do you assess the BJP’s prospects in UP after completion of five phases of polling?
BJP is in a very good situation. In UP, polling will be complete in 53 Lok Sabha seats today (Monday) and BJP will win 47-50 seats out of them. And overall in UP, BJP alone will win 74-plus seats. We will win Amethi (Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s seat) and Azamgarh (from where Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting) too – please note this.

Does that mean the Narendra Modi wave that swept the state in 2014 polls is intact?
The Modi wave is even bigger this time. Across India, the situation is very good for the BJP. Compared to 2014, we will put up an even better performance. In 2014, Modi’s name was there in the minds of people due to the good work he had done in Gujarat as chief minister. He made Gujarat one of the most developed states in India. Whoever had been to Gujarat, from UP or Bihar or anywhere in the country, saw the development there and compared it to that in their villages. What was the situation in UP then – people did not get electricity for even two hours. Those people worked as pracharaks (publicists) of Modi. After Modi became the PM, development happened across the country. If you go to the ground, you will find that there is no anti-incumbency against either the central government or the UP government – be it on the issue of development or among any section of society like youths or farmers. Across the country, for PM, the choice of the general public is Narendra Modi. It is so in West Bengal too, where BJP will perform exceedingly well this time.

Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati are among the other names being floated for PM…

Door door tak koi matlab nahin hai (They are nowhere in the race). People know Modi did not do anything for himself. Whatever he has done is for people and the country.

What do you make of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav not campaigning much, even as the SP-BSP-RLD alliance claims it has overwhelming numbers on its side?

How can Mulayam Singh Yadav appreciate this alliance? His pain as the founder of the Samajwadi Party has been seen many a time. He said he used to issue tickets and now had to ask for one. Mulayam Singh ji had once got his party to win 37 seats from UP and now the same party is fighting election on only 37 seats. Is this a party on the rise or on a decline? In 1993, when the SP and BSP entered into an alliance, SP contested two-thirds of the seats and BSP on one-third. Today, BSP is fighting 38 seats and SP 37 seats. How will the SP founder or any prominent SP leader accept this?

The new factor in this election in UP is Priyanka Gandhi…

She is not a new factor. Priyanka Vadra was here in 2014 and 2017 as well. Both times she failed, and she will fail badly this time too. She made the claim to fight from Varanasi and then withdrew. Why? Unhe maloom hai, woh nahi lad sakteen (She knew she was not capable of contesting). Not just this, I am very pained to see how Priyanka Vadra, who is a woman and has children of her own, is taking out her frustration of the loss in UP by teaching children here to abuse. This is not good.

Priyanka Gandhi has said the Congress will hurt the BJP where it cannot win and not the alliance…

This will be the misfortune of the Congress, a national party which has ruled this country the longest, if it is proved to be a vote-cutter. This is not a Congress on the rise but on the decline. For the national general secretary of Congress to say it is fighting the election to cut the BJP’s votes, this should be very shameful for the party.

Priyanka Gandhi also said her focus is 2022 assembly election in UP. What if she is the CM face then?

Priyanka ji in 2017 made a pair of two boys (Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav). The people rejected it saying we only have a pair of bulls in UP whom we use in our fields. So people of the state do not want bail-buddhi (a person with low intelligence). They want a pradesh ke vikas ki buddhi (a brain focused on development of the state), a person with them in their joys and sorrows, and who protects the state’s faith.

The Election Commission sent you one notice after the other for violations of the Model Code of Conduct…

We have replied to every notice.

But the EC barred you from campaigning for three days…
Kya aap mujhe mandir mein jaane se rok paaye (Could you stop me from going to temples)? I still went to the temple. I did all my work which I had to do. Meri aastha ko koi kaise rok sakta hai? (How can anyone stop me from following my faith). No one can stop it. This is my constitutional right and no one can deprive me of my right.

There is a perception among some that the minorities in UP have doubts about Yogi Adityanath…

People have kept on speaking a lot of things about me as they wish. I can’t stop anyone. But in the past two years there has not been a single riot. In the past two years, all festivals – be it Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami, Eid, Bakrid, Muharram, Kavad yatra, Christmas or Guru Teg Bahadur Jayanti – passed off peacefully without any ruckus. The biggest occasion of Kumbh was held in a grand manner. I think this is enough for people to see and understand – whoever has the brains and the vision can make his perception based on this. If someone does not have the brains, what can I say?

What makes you so confident that the BJP can win both Azamgarh and Amethi?
The BJP government has provided people there with development and a new identity. Azamgarh under Samajwadi Party rule reached a state where a youth from there did not get a room on rent elsewhere, forget a job. We have changed the perception of Azamgarh. Amethi is being represented by one family for four generations but was zero on development. Smriti Irani went to Amethi more in the past five years than Rahul Gandhi in 15 years, and she took development schemes there. I feel pained over what kind of a MP he is. Over the past two years, in UP we have given schools bags, uniform and shoes to 1.77 crore children. Priyanka Gandhi made this an issue – that why shoes have been distributed. What can be a more laughable situation for the Congress than this?

What major changes have you brought in UP which you think will prompt people to vote for the BJP?

In UP, all 75 districts are now getting electricity for 20-24 hours. Over one crore poor people have got free electricity connections. We have reduced our line loss from 43% to below 30% and our effort is when we bring it below 15%, we will give 24-hour electricity across the state. People have seen this change. In the past two years, we have given 2.6 crore families a toilet. UP is the number one state on this count. Every person wants security too – gang wars and mafia have become a thing of the past.

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