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Akhilesh Yadav: ‘300 MLAs upset with him… Yogi gave free hand to cops to save chair’

People are angry over the political situation...As for UP, even today, if you go to villages and ask about the election results, they say it is beyond comprehension that the (Opposition) alliance lost: Akhilesh Yadav.

Akhilesh Yadav, President, Samajwadi Party. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav speaks to Asad Rehman and Ravish Tiwari on the ongoing protests against the new citizenship law and argues that the SP is at the forefront of the agitation. Excerpts:
It has been more than two weeks of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). How do you see these protests?
People are angry over the political situation…As for UP, even today, if you go to villages and ask about the election results, they say it is beyond comprehension that the (Opposition) alliance lost… After the BJP government was formed (at the Centre)…decisions have been taken with an eye on 20 crore population…Public is angry because the government assures the decisions are in their interest. Noteban was a decision, its outcomes are before everyone. GST was a big decision…its impacts are before us…Now even big economists have started talking about a major economic crisis…Banking system is collapsing, NPAs have risen…No one is ready to take credit from banks…What is left of the economy? How are you going to get out of this chakravyuh?

Read | Will be the first to not fill up NRC form: Akhilesh Yadav

What do you mean when you say BJP has taken decisions with an eye on a 20-crore population?
BJP’s target is to erect walls within the society, create hatred and maintain fear.
If you were the CM, how would you have dealt with these protests?
We never stopped (protests). I remember Muzaffarnagar, barring few exceptions, I did not stop any leader from visiting Muzaffarnagar. I had even said I will welcome any suggestion for welfare of those poor people…Accepting the Opposition’s suggestion is a healthy thing in democracy.
The Prime Minister recently remarked that protesters can be identified by their clothes..
Agar kapde se logon ko pehchan sakte hain toh Pradhan Mantriji apne bagal ke logon ko nahin pehchan sake. Agar kapdon se hi pehchan sakte hain toh kaise nahin pehchan paye ki hamare Mukhyamantri ji ki vichardhara kya kehti hai (If people could be identified by clothes, then Prime Minister could not identify the people next to him, if people could be identified by clothes, then how could he not identify our Chief Minister’s mindset?)….I think PM has said this for the CM and deputy CM.
The BJP leadership is alleging that these protests are instigated by political parties and people with vested interests
I have heard of how people came out on their own during the JP movement or when Lohia gave a call. But I have seen for the first time how public is coming out on its own now…These are people who love Bharat Mata…. who feel our Constitution and its preamble is being played with….People from every caste and religion have come out, Indians have come out, the BJP can’t identify them.
The PM and other BJP leaders are alleging that Opposition is spreading lies, creating confusion
Even during the days of Karl Marx, when he wanted to take his ideas to the public, the government of the day had cracked down on the press…during the period of Hitler, his trusted advisor Goebbels had taken control of radio stations…Isn’t a similar thing happening today?
The largest number of protesters have been killed in UP. UP Police is not admitting that bullets killed them, except one
Look at the number of NHRC notices to UP government…UP has got the largest number of notices for custodial deaths, fake encounters… You should listen to our CM’s language. This state has seen great chief ministers, but none of them would have said “thok do” on the House floor… Mukhyantriji ne aisi bhasha Ka istemal isliye kiya aur police ko khuli chhoot isliye di kyonki unse 200 se zyada vidhayak naaraj the… Apni kursi bachane ke liye unhone khuli chhoot di. (The CM used such language and gave a free hand to police because over 200 MLAs were upset with him…he gave a free hand to save his chair…
This is an allegation…
…I am telling the truth. Socialists don’t make false allegations…Didn’t 200 MLAs sit on protest? Add 100 more angry with him, that makes it 300 who are upset with him. There were talks of his replacement…After this episode, do you think BJP can dare remove him?…People in the government are happy that no one is going to ask about investments in the next six months…We want to know how much investments announced during PM, BJP president, and the President’s visit have come.
But, you are saying every Indian is with the protests, but why is the Opposition not united? There doesn’t appear to be a coordination…
Why do you want coordination?
To reflect combined public opinion…
Are there any upcoming elections? By-elections have shown how much BJP’s votes have shrunk…SP has won them. People are siding with SP.
But, politics within the Opposition seems to be costing a cohesive response.
…If I say Congress is on BJP’s path or BJP is following Congress’ footsteps, wouldn’t that be right? Tell me the difference between their policies….The people now want clean and clear politics. On that front, SP is placing its views clearly.
That means you will contest the next election alone?
That’s the position as of now. I have experimented enough….
AIMIM seems to have taken a lead in these protests.
Don’t take their name. I wouldn’t comment on them. UP is a large state and voters here are intelligent.
SP doesn’t appear as aggressive as earlier. Are you afraid of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar episode that you will get branded as a Muslim party by the BJP?
BJP is full of intellectuals indulging in conspiracies. They will not contest elections on Expressway. We distributed laptops, they gave toilets. People are discussing toilets and not laptops. Country needs laptops or toilets today? Samajwadi Party is bearing the brunt of lathis…Our party is not behind in any agitation. We are at the front.
Do you think all 19 have been killed by police bullets?
Most of them have died by police bullets. As per what people have told me, 18 of the 19 have been possibly killed by police bullets.
In the Unnao case, you came forward to help victims. There have been 19 deaths and no help seems to be forthcoming from your side now
We have helped people many times. We did it even during noteban…Samajwadi Party always comes out to help and we will do it again….people have been killed in police firing, but the government is not making post-mortem reports available. I fear the government will tamper with the reports. My information is that they had started managing post-mortem reports from the first day.”

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