‘If he has to keep BJP bosses happy…’

‘If Yogiji has to run this government without any problems, he has to remain in power, and if he has to keep the BJP bosses in Delhi and the RSS happy, then he has no option but to do it.’

Ram Iqbal Singh, the former BJP MLA from Ballia, has been critical of UP Chief Minister Ajay Mohan Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, instances of violence during the recently concluded block panchayat elections in the state and entry of outsiders into the BJP fold.

“The big leaders decide how the party is to be run; who should get entry and who should not. It makes no difference to these big leaders that ordinary party workers are not liking what is happening in UP,” Singh tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

Why are you criticising the Yogi government on every front?

Kahan baras rahe hai hum Yogi Adityanath Sarkar per (Who is criticising his government)?

Every political party makes efforts to win elections in their own styles and ways. There is nothing new that Yogiji is doing.

When they get a chance everybody does it; BSP (Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party) does that, SP (Mulayam Singh Yadav and now Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party) does that. All of them make use of the same system, don’t they? Is there any difference between them (the political parties in UP)?

This is all power play and they are doing just that to win power at any cost.

Is Yogi Adityanath too doing it for power?

What else can he do? If Yogiji has to run this government without any problems, he has to remain in power there ( chief minister), and if he has to keep the BJP bosses in Delhi and the RSS happy, then he has no option but to do it.

One of your criticisms is that there is a huge difference between the BJP led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the BJP led by Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Yes, there is a huge, huge, difference. These leaders are quite different and there can be nobody comparable to Vajpayee.

Vajpayee was sarv manya (acceptable to all sections of Indian society). Yeh bahumat manya hai (Modi rules by force of majority); sarv manya nahi hai.

You have seen the BJP from close quarters; you have been an MLA and now you are a member of its state working committee in Uttar Pradesh. What are those critical differences between the BJP under Vajpayee, Modi and Yogi Adityanath?

Modiji works for the party; whatever he decides for the party he accomplishes it. Vajpayee worked for the people and would act as per people’s wishes. Modiji apni soch ke anusar karte hai (Modi works as per his own wishes).

There is a huge difference; there is this difference of what kind of personalities they have. Vajpayeeji couldn’t become as popular as Modiji. Everybody has played a different role.

It is wrong to criticise past leaders for what they didn’t or couldn’t do. Nehruji had his own role to play; so did Indiraji. Each one of the past prime ministers had their own way of thinking and doing things and that’s what they did to the best of their efforts and with sincerity.

Jawaharlal Nehru has been the BJP’s favourite punching bag for some time now?

Nehru did his best given the circumstances that he faced during his tenure as PM. Everybody did his or her best given the circumstances they faced.

It is not fair to criticise anybody today. In fact, criticising someone is the easiest thing to do; praising somebody is difficult.

Everybody contributed for welfare of India and her people. Nehruji bohot kuch kiye bhai; Indiraji ne bohot kuch kiya (Nehru and Indira Gandhi did a lot for India). Shastriji too was an exemplary prime minister in his own way.

What is it that Yogi Adityanath is doing better in UP and where is he making mistakes?

Every party works according to its principles and ideologies. He has to keep showing his image of being a Hindutva icon.

There can’t be two different opinions about Yogiji‘s honesty. We have to accept it even if it sounds like a bitter truth, that he is one of the most honest chief ministers in India today. There is no corruption blot against him.

He is working as per his image and BJP manifesto and ideology.

Does he want to become Hinduhriday Samrat? Does he want to take this Modi title?

Woh to wah le chuke hai (He has already done that).

Has he taken this title just in Uttar Pradesh or across India?

In all of India. He has been very clear about how he wants to project himself among the Hindus. He never minces his words.

He is very clear that first we are Hindus, and then a nation and we are working for the Hindutva way of life. He is very clear in his mind about building his image accordingly.

What mistakes is Yogi Adityanath committing in Uttar Pradesh and why are you so critical of him?

Nahi, nahi, hum to koi alochana nahii kar rahe hai (It is wrong to say that I am criticising him).

But you have been taking him on over the use of violence during the recent elections to block panchayats. Then you have been critical of his handling of the COVID-19 crisis…

See, the government figures will always be like that. The media has exposed those lies, the people of UP have seen it. Nothing can be done about that now.

… but Modi is very pleased with his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Uttar Pradesh is a huge expanse of land; if it were a nation, it would be the seventh largest nation in the world. All other chief ministers worked from home during the pandemic, but Yogiji was there out in the streets leading the fight against the disease.

But like all leaders who don’t want to part with power, he too is doing his bit to stay in power.

You have also spoken against Yogi Adityanath for violence during the block panchayat elections.

Everybody wants power; Samajwadi Party wants it too; whoever is in a position to use might does that to win power.

Are you justifying use of violence to win elections?

Not at all; not at all. Use of violence by anybody is unacceptable. Kaunsi sarkar nishpaksh chunav karati hai? (which government in power conducts free and fair elections?) There is no scope for violence at any cost for achieving any purpose.

But you seem to be blaming Yogi Adityanath for the violence?

No, that is not correct.

Why couldn’t he prevent use of violence during the election? After all, he is also UP’s home minister.

He can do whatever he wants. Had he wanted, he could have stopped it from happening. Haarte-haarte woh jeet gaye (BJP won from a losing position).

Are you satisfied with the UP government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis?

I would say that Yogiji did a good job of containing the COVID crisis despite ruling a state of the size of Uttar Pradesh.

You have also raised the issue of outsiders getting important positions in the UP BJP?

The big leaders of the party decide how the party is to be run; who should get entry and who should not. It makes no difference to these big leaders that ordinary party workers are not liking what is happening in UP. Their thinking and job is to help the BJP win elections.

There are reports of the BJP considering action against you for anti-party activities.

Let’s not talk about it. You all know what is happening.

Do you expect disciplinary action against you?

No, there is no such action happening.

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