BJP will retain power in UP with thumping majority: Anurag Thakur (IANS Interview)

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By Shashi Bhushan
Varanasi, March 4 (IANS) Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, believes that the clean image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will help the BJP against the ‘corrupt’ and ‘goon’ image of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and others in the ongoing Assembly elections.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Thakur, who is also BJP’s election co-incharge for Uttar Pradesh, said that the BJP’s fight against ‘goons’ and ‘mafias’ will continue on a stronger note in the next five years in Uttar Pradesh.

Expressing confidence of improving BJP’s 2017 Assembly poll performance in UP, he said that the saffron party will again win with more than 300 seats in the 403-member state Assembly.

“If you look at the work done in the last five years, we have provided clean governance and at the same time goons and mafias have been weeded out,” Thakur said.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: As the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh enter the last phase, how do you see BJP’s chances?

A: As per my assessment after seeing people’s overwhelming support, I can say that the BJP will retain power in Uttar Pradesh with a thumping majority. ‘Abki baar phir se 300 paar’ (over 300 seats this time too)… We will perform better than the previous Assembly polls and once again win more than 300 seats.

Q: Being the party’s election co-incharge for UP, you are actively involved with the polls. What are the key issues?

A: Welfare of the poor, law and order, safety and security of the people are the key issues in these polls. We have done very well in these core issues concerning the people. If you look at the work done in the last five years, we have provided clean governance and at the same time goons and mafias have been weeded out from Uttar Pradesh. This is what we promised five years back to the people, and we worked on them to make the people of Uttar Pradesh safe and secure.

Q: Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and Swami Prasad Maurya left the BJP to join hands with the Samajwadi Party, and they can influence the last phase of polling. Are they going to affect BJP’s chances?

A: This time, Anupriya Patel’s Apna Dal and Sanjay Nishad’s Nishad Party are in alliance with us. If you look at the past, many became MLAs after joining hands with the BJP. There are people who search for a new ‘swami’ every five years. People have seen how for five years they hailed Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Adityanath and didn’t get tired listing the achievements of the state government. People are asking as to what happened that they have now started criticising the BJP.

If Maurya is in a strong position, why did he run away from his constituency Padrauna? The ground has become slippery. I can give in writing, both Rajbhar and Maurya are losing.

Q: The Opposition alleges that BJP has shifted from its development agenda to nationalism and religion. What would you say?

A: Nationalism is part of the BJP’s ideology, as safety and security of the nation is paramount to us. Good governance and development are the poll planks of BJP and we have been contesting elections on them for the last so many years.

The clean image of Modi ji and Yogi ji will help us against the corrupt and goon image of Akhilesh ji and others. As far as the UP elections are concerned, we are very clear that our fight against these goons and mafias will go on more strongly in the next five years and the development agenda will progress further with more vigour.

Q: The Opposition is also talking about unemployment in the state…

A: The clean governance provided by the BJP has opened the gate for investment in Uttar Pradesh. Rs 4 lakh crore has been invested in Uttar Pradesh and three crore people got self-employment or employment opportunity so far.

In the coming years, we are going to see investments worth Rs 10 lakh crore coming into Uttar Pradesh. We are trying to provide employment or self-employment to at least one member in each household.

Q: There is buzz that the BJP is not in a strong position in some seats in Varanasi district, which is the reason Prime Minister Modi is giving special attention to Varanasi in the last two days of campaigning. Your comment…

A: Unlike Akhilesh Yadav and Swami Prasad Maurya, who have been changing their seats fearing defeat, Prime Minister Modi has been regularly coming to Varanasi since 2014 after being elected from here. The Prime Minister is committed to the development of Varanasi as well as the state. Right from ensuring development of Kashi, Prime Minister Modi has worked tirelessly for the development of Uttar Pradesh.

Naturally, he (Modi) is loved by everyone in Varanasi and Uttar Pradesh. He keeps coming back to the state and his constituency. Not only Kashi, we are going to sweep across the state and everyone will see this on March 10.

Q: In an election rally, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that BJP has lost the polls. How would you react to her comment?

A: It is very clear from what we have seen in West Bengal. We have seen how she remained silent when they (Trinamool Congress) were killing BJP ‘karyakartas’ (workers). Mamata Banerjee lost Nandigram while the BJP improved its tally from three to 77.

She has no right to come here and seek votes. During the West Bengal Assembly elections, she had called people of Uttar Pradesh ‘goons’… So what made her come here and seek votes from the people of Uttar Pradesh? People will give a befitting reply to her by voting for the BJP.

Q: Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had also commented against the people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar…

A: Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have also insulted the people of Uttar Pradesh and they will also get a befitting reply.

When the Punjab CM was insulting the people of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi was laughing and clapping. Four generations of Gandhi family sought votes from the people of Uttar Pradesh to win the elections. But Rahul Gandhi went to contest from Wayanad in Kerala. People will give befitting replies to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, and to the Congress party as a whole.

–IANS
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