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We had PMs from regional parties, non-Congress and non-BJP front will be bigger: Akhilesh Yadav

BJP is doing the same thing that the Congress used to in the past, says President of Samajwadi Party.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 13, 2019, 11.04 AM IST
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AY1
"We have given tickets to several most-backward caste candidates. I think, we have been able to move this section away from BJP."
Akhilesh Yadav loves the TV series Mirzapur and its actors. Campaigning in the city on Sunday and across parts of Eastern UP along with RLD’s Jayant Chaudhury, the day Yadav’s constituency Azamgargh went to polls, the President of Samajwadi Party and the architect of the Mahagathbandhan in UP, took time out and shared with ET why he thinks the social alliance is the biggest idea this elections, his economic blueprint and why global investors should not stress about India without a Modi regime. After all, he says, the states have been wooing private investments and industry on their own and have enough rapport with India Inc. Edited excerpts

Elections are about a selling a big idea, its about packaging a dream. BJP has Vikas and nationalism. Congress has NYAY. What is your big idea this time around?
Mahagathbandhan itself is the big idea. You tell me, who is doing the most menial, laborious, work? It’s the poor and the backward. They are the ones who travel in general compartment of trains or flock government hospitals since they cannot afford private healthcare. Who is doing safai ka kaam, mazdoori ka kaam, sewers ka kaam? Or what about the migrant labourers who leave their villages and travel far for jobs. Nothing has changed in their lives in the last 5 years.

The priority of a good government should be to provide good quality infrastructure – be in roads, power, water, health, education – or good infrastructure for the farmers like mandis where he will get the best rates. We initiated several social schemes. We initiated several social schemes for poor women, cash incentives for the girl child, laptop for students, helplines for health and police since security is equally important. But we lost last time since we could not spread this message out to everyone. So this time, we have joined hands with BSP, RLD to form a mahagathbandhan that takes everyone along, especially the weaker sections of our society.

Our track record is that of performance and we have credibility among the people but we needed to bring everyone together. We have already shown that we can build Metro in the shortest time of 2 years. We already have the policies and the credibility but we were all talking separately. Now we are united. This is the biggest idea.

The BJP campaign narrative is based on robust nationalism. They claim a non-BJP government will compromise on national security?
What compromise of national security are we talking about? People know and can figure out what the PM is saying. The masses are the radar and you cannot mislead them. Can you imagine what our PM is saying? Is it possible that radars cannot pick signals if its cloudy? Janta ki radar has picked up all the signals, all the lies. My father gave the best aircraft to this country that is Sukhoi. Is there any new aircraft that has been inducted after that. BJP claims they are building ports, airports but this is what we are doing in the states. UP sends the maximum number of people to the armed forces.
AY..
“If the richest have to pay 1-2% extra tax, it hardly matters to them. But that can change the lives of so many poor.”

You have repeatedly said it is a battle to preserve the Constitution. Give me 3 examples of this subversion of the Constitution by the Modi govt?
Look at CBI. BJP is doing the same thing that the Congress used to in the past. ED is another example. Senior judges came out in the open to say democracy is in danger. Look at media. That’s why I have been saying BJP led government is surviving on lies. They have spread hate among the backwards; they have divided people on religious lines in UP and now Bengal. To terminate these things, mahagathbandhan has been formed.

Why should investors trust you? They are worried a non-NDA govt will be a populist govt. Would you raise taxes to fund social schemes?
There are already surcharges on health. A 2% tax for CSR. There are several global studies that say if the richest have to pay 1-2% extra tax, it hardly matters to them. But the 2% can change the lives of so many poor. The country is for everyone. So, I do believe the rich should also share the burden. The middle class and poor buy their products, build their markets after all. So, if the poor benefits from good health, education, security of livelihoods, the rich will too benefit. All regional parties have actually increased investment inflows competing in a federal structure.

All big industrial houses have worked with individual CMs. They have their rapport too. I got HCL, private power companies. The investments happen in states only. They are happy too. Kanpur was once the Manchester of India. But our mills shut down. Some went to Surat, Mumbai, Kolkata. But labour is 60% from UP. There should be a model that we revive these mills in UP and we manufacture and consume it here. We have to make such models. We made a poultry policy for UP where in 40 lakhs eggs were produced locally instead of everything coming from AP. In dairy, UP is one of the leading milk producers. Parag’s milk co-operative society is older than Amul. I spoke to KC Das, Swami Ramdev for cobranding opportunities. Governments can’t do marketing but can facilitate production. We can revive these institutions and units.
AY3
"BJP has spread hate among the backwards; they have divided people on religious lines in UP and now Bengal. To terminate these things, mahagathbandhan has been formed."

Foreign investors love Modi, why do you think that is so — and what can you offer instead?
See what global press like Economist, Time Magazine is saying.. that Modi is dangerous for democracy. These media houses once wrote in his favour, then you never claimed that the authors are from Pakistan as you are claiming now. GST has done nothing but hit the economy. Leather has to be imported from Pakistan, Dubai. Demonetisation has broken the backbone of so many.

What single achievement can you point to in your own state to demonstrate your financial competence to domestic and foreign investors?
I gave the longest access control expressway to the country and doubled power generation. I got structural change in police response system through dial 100. I have worked on the dairy sector and since then procurement shot up by 5 lakh litres a day. I gave the state a number of medical colleges and doubled the number of seats for MBBS students. I built mandis along the expressway. Without that connectivity, farmers cannot reach out to new markets.

It is always said that in UP, Bihar it is all about Mandal politics/Mandalisation. This time how are the different communities, caste groups reacting to the Mahagathbandhan campaign?
Last time PM said I come from an Other Backward Caste (OBC) background while campaigning in UP in 2014. That gave relief and hope to many who thought reservation of jobs and education that our Constitution offers will get strengthened further. But BJP has not strengthened anything. Infect they have snatched it away. People are angry at their style of functioning. Mind you, 5 years is a long time to perform. Kisan is angry at the agrarian crisis, demonetisation hit the poor the hardest, GST has finished our exports. No mega investments are taking place in the country.

No jobs, no growth. But when we seek data from the Centre on farmer suicides, unemployment data, the government refuses to share. What is this government that hides more and reveals less? Mahagathbandhan has worked before in Kairana. We have also formed Mahagathbandhan this time. Whatever differences or disagreements we had we have tried to solve them. We had moved away from each other so we had to bridge that gap. When we fought in Gorakhpur, Phulpur together, we brought everyone together and proved we can do it. So, this Mahagathbandhan is there at the grassroots, at the cadre level, organisational level as well as the leader level. It will work. This time around, the outreach is also different. When BJP won in 2014, 2017, media wrote about social engineering and their remarkable booth management.

Do you think the Mahadalits and the EBC are voting enmasse against the BJP this time?
Largely we have succeeded. We have given tickets to several most backward caste candidates so I think we have been able to move them away from BJP which we could not last time. This time they are voting for MG. Unless you give them opportunity, proper representation, why will they vote for you. This time we have selected candidates very carefully.
AY4
"We got everyone together in Gorakhpur and Phulpur and proved we can do it."

If yes how will you benefit when there are many seats such as Farooqabad, Unnao, Barabanki, Pratapgargh, Dhaurahra, Kushinagar where Congress might cut into your votes?
Congress has themselves said, we have put weak candidates except Amethi and RaiBarelli. You know who that will help.

Why couldn't you put up an United opposition candidate in Varanasi?
They have not kept in touch. They are not responding. After winning 3 state elections, they have not spoken to anyone. I wanted a fauji to contest from Varanasi. Then it would have been a very different election then.

How serious is the agrarian crisis here and what would you do to tackle it?
(Jayant Chaudhary)): We need a multi prong approach. Firstly, we have to realise that BJP’s fixation for consumer prices have also hurt the producers. I think the producers should also deserve his pound of flesh. Their policies have been anti farmer. From sugar to pulses they have kept importing. We need policy that will ensure whatever price is fixed by government or whatever signalling they do is more effective and we have to control the cost structure either directly or through enhancing the subsidy schemes that already exists. Even now, farmers across many states faces restrictive APMC regulations. Farmers are not free. Samajwadi Party tried to reform the APMC but there was less acceptance and there was resistance from some quarters. So, there should be pro-farmer initiatives like reforming the market structures. If you have a few traders control the market through oligarchy, then you can’t have pricing for market. You gave tax breaks to IT for 10 years. The government needs to give similar incentives to the food processing industry as well. We are only processing 6-7% of the produce. Rs 60,000-70,000 crore worth of output is getting wasted since they can’t get processed. And the farmer is not getting the market price. Finally, Fasal Bima Yojana needs to be relooked totally. The entire cost structure of that scheme should not be put on the farmers. For small, poor farmers the government should bear the premium and take it away from the private sector.

AY5
"What compromise of internal security? My father gave the country Sukhoi aircraft. UP sends the maximum number of people to the armed forces."

Hasn’t Ayushman Bharat worked also to win the confidence of the poor?
(Jayant Chaudhary):: Again it benefits the private players. We need the government to spend. At least 6% of the budget should be spent on health and education. Jitni kisht sarkar denge in Ayushman, you can build 5-6 medical colleges in the country. The government should bear the risk and medical and health should ideally be in the hands if the government.

AY: If the government withdraws then it will be rampant commercialisation. A lot of people will be left out. The government is also not adding capacity or infrastructure. Your main problem is that you don’t have enough doctors, nurses. I was about to launch a similar insurance scheme with a German firm in UP but realised only private healthcare would have flourished. Instead improve the infrastructure, create supply. We should look the other way.

But again the question will be where is the money or the resources for the government?
Where is the money coming for Ayushman? You are creating the money from somewhere. That’s what we are saying. When BJP came to power, desh bhar ka karza tha Rs 35,000 lakh crore aaj the number is Rs 70,000 lakh crore. Where did all that money go? Why then do we have all the institutions saddled with so much debt.

Then is privatisation the solution?
JC: We are not against privatisation. All we are saying in certain sectors like health, education the government’s presence is essential. There are some basic minimum that the government and the public sector can do. You can’t withdraw. There is a requirement for private sector and encourage them. There is enough money. You are spending more than Rs 6000 crore. What is the efficacy of the Mudra scheme?

Are you planning to extend MG till 2022 UP elections and will this alliance see any addition after May 23rd.
We do not have an expiry date.

What will Akhilesh Yadav do to keep the entire social coalition of Yadav, non-Yadav OBC, Jatav and non Jatav dalits, Muslims come together as one cohesive social unit. What is your glue? What is your alternative agenda?
We have given tickets to all communities, caste groups. When you give tickets then everyone comes together under a single platform. To give this country a new PM this glue will be strong and effective even in the long run.

So 2019 we will see a new PM from a regional party?
There are many blocks who are coming victorious who are from a non BJP, non-Congress group. KCR, Naidu are all trying. Mamata Didi called us and all of us went. This will be an exercise that will happen after 23rd… Even in the past, we have had PMs from regional parties. But this time it will be a far larger non-BJP, non-Congress group.

Aren’t you planning to go and campaign for Didi as well in West Bengal.
Our dates are clashing. We want Didi to win handsomely. Because what they are trying to do in Bengal is far more dangerous than what they have been trying in UP. The hatred they spread in UP amongst the Hindus and Muslims, they are doing far worse in Bengal. In UP, they spoke to Ram, Masjid, Electricity during Ramzan, spoke against the Muslims and slaughterhouses. But what was the reality? Slaughter houses are there still. Electricity is there in Diwali, Ramzan.

Why is the urban youth still charmed by Modi?
I feel bad that educated people are not reading the global narrative. They should think what the world is thinking of us. If they take action against BJP, they will be true nationalists. They should not vote for someone who is so divisive.

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