As Uttar Pradesh is gearing up for Assembly elections in early 2022, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari says that the party will not tie up with any mainstream parties Congress or Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and is confident of repeating the 2012 win. Excerpts:
Q) BSP chief Mayawati has already announced that she will go alone in the assembly polls. What is the roadmap for SP?
Our party chief Akhilesh Yadav has already made it clear that we will not ally with any mainstream parties. We have firmed up an alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the splinter group of Nishad Party and we are also in talks with other small parties. We will reveal the details later.
Q) The Yogi government was accused of mishandling the pandemic in the state. The state unit of the BJP is riddled with internal dissent. As the main opposition party, will you capitalize on these issues?
Uttar Pradesh is facing a state-crafted model of terrorizing people, civil society, marginalized sections, minorities, women, journalists, or anyone who tells the truth. It was appalling the way the ‘Love Jihad’ law was coined. Even the Governor of the state has said on record that someone would have done some survey to come up with this law. The state has not presented any survey. Propaganda becomes the basis of law like this. It has made people angry because it has not given them any tangible returns. It has not given them jobs or prosperity. It has only given them a spectre of helplessness when people were dying. And the government kept saying that there weren’t any issues. As a result of this, people are extremely angry.
Q) Many believe that the opposition was missing from the scene.
We have stayed consistent under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav about our agenda that our work should do the talk. We have a vision for the state and will continue to do the work we want to do.
Q) In the scenario of SP and BSP going solo, Uttar Pradesh is certain to see a multi-cornered contest. Don’t you think it will benefit the BJP?
Look at the elections before 2017, which was a four-cornered fight. People in the state have voted decisively in 2012 and 2007. I think the oversized BJP makes one believe that it is the dominant force of politics. However, the undercurrent and public anger are extremely strong against the BJP that the people will cut them to size.
Q) UP election will have resonance in 2024 General elections. There were talks about an anti- BJP coalition at the national level. Why can’t the UP election lay the ground for Opposition unity?
I think it is time for politics to be more open and transparent. India is a young country and there are more communication channels than ever before. This is not an era to be to have behind-the-scenes alliances. This is an era to have open dialogue forums, and have alliances that are credible and above board.