Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav tells Revati Laul that law and order would be the party’s main poll campaign plank
Isn’t there a significant difference in the crime rates from the time when the Samajwadi Party was in power and the present Mayawati government?
I’m glad you have done your research and have probably pulled out figures for crimes against women for the past decade. I’m confident that you will be objective when you write. The Mayawati government has broken all crime records in UP. It’s probably never happened before that an MLA can pick somebody off the street and attack him. That’s what happened in Muzaffarnagar. Similarly, in Banda district, you must have heard of a girl who was attacked.
There are those cases and those of a girl who was raped when the Samajwadi Party was in power. Some people connected to the SP were implicated in that case.
So it seems you have made up your mind. You are going to write an anti-Samajwadi report, isn’t it? That’s why you are quoting an exceptional case to prove your point.
Absolutely not. The issue at stake is simple. If the statistics don’t show a marked change from the time of the SP to now, then can the party use law and order as a campaign issue against the Mayawati government?
If you look at the current state of crimes, the BSP has been involved at one level or the other. If you quote one crime committed at the time of the SP, I can quote 10 in the time of the BSP. The SP always stands up for justice and at present the situation in UP, the loot that’s happening at the behest of this government, is unimaginable. The way reporters have been beaten up and threatened is unprecedented. We are going to make all of these elections issues. Speaking of statistics, I will give you some. In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the BSP got only 21 seats, while the Samjwadi Party won 23. The BSP is going down and it’s all because there is no justice, no law and order, and rampant corruption.
Why highlight only crime statistics from this year? What about the previous three years of BSP rule?
We will highlight them as well.
Isn’t winning elections all about manipulating statistics?
Well, if you are talking about statistics, then data will show that the Samajwadi Party has never been unjust ever.
Isn’t the party raising these issues at press conferences in Lucknow only because Assembly polls are looming large?
We have been raising these issues repeatedly over the years, not just this year. We have been talking about corruption, the number of statues being built, etc. We faced lathicharges. Did you go to Banda and meet the girl who was attacked? It’s the SP that fought for her case. In Dibiyapur in Auriya district, where an engineer was attacked by an MLA, the SP fought for that case as well. We were there to help when an MLA attacked a woman in Sultanpur. In Lakhimpur Kheri, where a 13-year-old girl was found dead in a police station compound, we were there to help.
What was the SP doing when similar incidents took place in the early years of the BSP government?
We have always been there to help the victims.
What will be the SP’s main campaign plank?
Corruption and law and order, the lack of development and the wastage of public money.
Will you tie up with the Congress in the 2012 poll?
No, there will not be any tie-up with the Congress.
Revati Laul is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.