After initially being sidelined by the BJP’s central leadership, Yogi Adityanath is back as a star campaigner in Uttar Pradesh. He is touring the state extensively and is in great demand among the BJP cadre in Purvanchal, where he holds sway as Gorakhpur’s representative in the Lok Sabha since 1998. He also addressed public meetings in the districts that went to the polls in the fourth phase and was the BJP’s biggest crowd puller after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. Seen by many as a top contender for UP Chief Minister’s post, Adityanath, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur, loves to court controversy. In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Guardian, the firebrand leader alleges that UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s development model works for only one community. Excerpts.

Q: Polling is over in the first four phases in Uttar Pradesh. All three contenders for power—BJP, Congress-SP and the BSP—are claiming they are ahead in the race to form government. What is the BJP’s internal assessment of its performance?

A: Elections for half of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh are over and I am confident the BJP will form government with absolute majority. As per the trends seen in the first four phases, the BJP is ahead of both the BSP and the Congress-SP alliance. But we will have to keep up the momentum till the seventh and the final phase. The Bahujan Samaj Party had much hopes from the first phase, but it did not do well because the RLD was also in the fray. In the first phase, the BSP was able to give some fight to the BJP. In the second phase, the SP pushed the BSP to the margins and emerged as our nearest competitor. In the third phase, however, it was the BSP again which came second after the BJP.

The BJP had won 71 of the 80 seats in UP in 2014. In Purvanchal, barring one seat, BJP candidates were successful everywhere. We are going to repeat the 2014 success this time too. 

Q: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a recent public meeting in Fatehpur that if electricity is supplied on Ramzan, it should be supplied on Diwali too. He added that if kabristan (graveyards) are being built in the villages, samshaan (crematoriums) too should be built. The BJP’s opponents have accused the party of polarising the electorate on communal lines. Your comments. 

A: This is not a politics of polarisation. This is very much an issue based politics. The state government itself says it has given Rs 1,300 crore for the construction of boundary walls in graveyards. Our contention is that in a state where sugar mills remain closed, where roads are dilapidated, electricity is inconsistent, where farmers are committing suicide and the youths are grappling with unemployment, what should be the government’s priority? Shouldn’t the focus be on providing the basic amenities to people? Or should the government be only concerned about building boundary walls in graveyards? When we talk about these issues, we are not trying to polarise.

When “kaanwar mela” was going on in the state, the administration imposed prohibitions on the use of mike and DJ shows. The same restrictions were seen during Saradiya Navaratra. The puja samitis which had organised Durga Puja were harassed by the administration in the name of permission, electricity, use of mikes. The police beat up samiti volunteers if they used mikes by mistake. But during Muharram, these rules were not enforced stringently at all. In Muharram, not only DJs were played, processions were taken out without permission. Does it suit a government to be so discriminatory on religious lines? How can you allow one community to carry out their boisterous festivities while forbidding the other? If the government takes such partial stand, this is not only shameful but anathema to democracy. 

If the SP government and the BSP are not capable of providing all round development and are interested only in building graveyards, then send them to the graveyard and elect a government that will deliver the facilities and ensure security in the state. The state needs a government that will tackle the growing unemployment problem and bring relief to the farmers. This government has completely failed to provide security to people. Aren’t rape and rioting a problem for the people? If you talk about development, then you should also talk about security. People who have shown no interest in providing security to the common man should not get their votes.

Q: BJP president Amit Shah has attracted a strong backlash for using the acronym Kasab for the Congress, SP and the BSP at a rally in Chauri-Chaura, Gorakhpur, and saying that development will elude the state until Kasab is laid to rest. Your comments.

A: Yes, these three parties are “Kasab” for sure. Congress makes the “K”, SP the “S” and the “B” stands for BSP. Their politics is dangerous for the state and the country. They encouraged riots in the state to achieve their political ends. They divide people in the name of caste, community and religion. It is a terror-act to divide society on caste and religious lines, and all three of them have done that. This is why people should be cautious of their politics.

Q: You also attracted criticism for your comments that western UP is in its way of becoming tomorrow’s Kashmir. Your opponents accused you of unnecessarily stoking fear and trying to reap political dividends by talking about “Hindu exodus” from Kairana. In this context, what is the state of security in the state?

A: When we travel to western Uttar Pradesh, people frequently complain to us about the lack of security. “What shall we do?” they ask us helplessly. My view is that if parties like SP and BSP keep coming to power in the state, it will not be long before western UP turns into another Kashmir. It is important that people elect a party which is committed to India and its Constitution and which is also serious about providing security. Only the BJP can provide that. The voters should not do any such mistake that will make western UP the Kashmir of tomorrow. 

Q: CM Akhilesh Yadav is fighting the elections on the basis of pro-incumbency and the central theme of his campaign is “kaam bolta hai”. What is your assessment of the five years of the Akhilesh government?

A. Dekhiye agar kaam bolta to Akhilesh Congress jaise mare hue saap ko apne gale me lapet ke nahi ghumte (If his work were his USP, Akhilesh wouldn’t have gone around by wrapping around his neck a dead snake like the Congress). The CM talks about kaam, but all that is visible are his kaarnama (misadventure). His karnama is for everyone to see. He deprived his own father from even the broken cycle they have. When you look back in history, you would find only two people who betrayed their own fathers. One was Kansa, who dethroned his father forcibly and became Mathura’s king and the other one was Aurangzeb who put Shahjahan in prison to usurp power. People will never appreciate such backstabbing of a father by his son, and this will be one of the reasons for the SP’s downfall.

If Akhilesh had done any development work, the SP, which had fought on all 403 seats in 2012 wouldn’t be contesting less than 300 seats in this election. He is trying to sell his work, but the truth is the work is nowhere to be traced. Be it roads, electricity, healthcare units or government schools and colleges, there is absolutely no sign of progress. Even the youths and the farmers are at the receiving end of his misgovernance. It is only the boundary walls of the graveyards where his development work can be noticed.

Q: The Samajwadi Party-Congress seem to be ahead at least in the poster war in the state. Big hoardings of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav have been put up with the slogan “UP ko yeh saath pasand hai”. Does the alliance between the two parties scare the BJP?

A: You have to accept the fact that the people of UP are totally against the alliance between the SP and the Congress. I don’t think anybody cares for the Congress-SP alliance. In any case, Rahul Gandhi is a bad omen for the Congress. Wherever Rahul Gandhi goes, Congress ends up being washed out. And one thing is for sure. When the results pour in on 11 March, the first statement that Akhilesh will make is that “look we were winning, but it is because of Rahul that we lost”. Akhilesh has made this alliance only because he wants to make Rahul the scapegoat for his defeat. 

Q: The SP-Congress is presenting Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav as “UP ke ladke”. At a rally in Rae Bareli recently, Priyanka Gandhi alluded that PM Modi was bahari (outsider) and that the state did not need any outsiders. Your comments.

A: Well, Priyanka ji should first tell us where does she herself hail from? In Kashmir they say, they are Kashmiris and now in UP they are introducing themselves as locals and seeking votes. She should refrain from making such comments on the Prime Minister of the country.

Q: If the BJP forms the government with an absolute majority, who will be the Chief Minister?

A: The CM will be someone from amongst the workers of the BJP. A worker who can provide good governance in the state and uplift it from the long misrule of the SP and the BSP.