Shillong: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ should have been sacked long back and his continuation in the Narendra Modi government will “definitely” have a bearing on the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, “in Lakhimpur Kheri, at least”, Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik has said.
“The Union Minister of State for Home is very pro-active but people often think he sometimes defends bad people. Mishra should have been sacked right after his speech… ‘I will fix you… you don’t know me…’ Does one talk like this?” Malik said in an interview to ThePrint at the Raj Bhavan Thursday.
Malik was referring to Mishra’s purported threat to farmers — in a widely circulated video clip that he never claimed was false — that he would “fix them in two minutes”. This threat was said to have provoked the farmers, putting them on a confrontationist path with the minister, which ended up in the death of eight people in Lakhimpur Kheri on 3 October.
Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish Mishra, was allegedly part of the convoy which hit a group of protesting farmers that day.
The Meghalaya governor’s backing of the demand for the Union minister’s resignation comes amid growing pressure from farmers’ organisations on the Modi government to sack Mishra.
Malik, who was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir when Article 370 was scrapped, said bifurcation of the state into two Union territories could have been “avoided”, but it was done because the police in UTs would come directly under the Union home ministry.
“There was no question of my dissent or consent… Those who had to do it (bifurcation of the state into two UTs) did it. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t do it,” said Malik.
Recalling the day Article 370 was invalidated (5 August 2019), Malik said chief secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam told him, “Sahib, ek hazaar aadmi maarna padega (Sir, a thousand people will have to be killed).”
“I said, ‘ek chidiya bhi nahin maarni padegi (not a bird will have to be killed)… 200 youngsters can’t fight with the No. 2 force of the world… I was advised to remove J&K Police from my security detail but I didn’t.”
Malik said Prime Minister Modi had given him a mandate: Don’t do any politics; win the people’s confidence.
Impact of farm laws’ repeal on UP polls
Speaking on the repeal of the three contentious farm laws, Malik said the PM’s announcement was a “good beginning”, which has had a “soothing effect” on farmers.
“These (farm laws) were no reforms, they were a clever attempt to divest the farmers of their land, which farmers understood…. Even if it was for their good, (the government) should have consulted them.”
This repeal will make farmers “soft” towards Modi but will make no difference as far as UP elections are concerned, he said. “This impression hasn’t been given in five years that (the ruling BJP) is pro-farmer. There has been no payment to sugarcane farmers till today… Farmers will vent out their anger (in the coming assembly elections),” the governor said.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Choudhary has gained “sympathy” of the Jats and “a major chunk” of them, as well as Muslims, will go with the RLD-Samajwadi Party combine, Malik predicted, adding: “Yogi (Adityanath) will get the benefit of what he has done for law and order. But only law and order, nothing else.”
Referring to attacks on him for speaking in favour of farmers, the governor said, “I am a well-wisher and admirer of the Prime Minister. If I see an electricity wire or a snake near his feet, would I not caution him? Twitter brigade may be one lakh, but there are crores of farmers with me.”
Goa CM’s ‘deeds’
Malik had had run-ins with the BJP-led government in Goa, which was said to have resulted in his transfer to the Shillong Raj Bhavan — the fourth in four years after Patna, Srinagar, and Panaji, excluding the additional charge of Odisha for some time.
“It was unfortunate that the day lockdown happened in Goa, the chief minister (Pramod Sawant) gave contract to supply essential commodities to one company. No one company can supply milk and vegetables at the home of every Goan. People didn’t get milk for three days… I told the PM… I knew kaun kya le raha tha (whose palms were being greased)… (Shops) opened following the PM’s intervention,” he said.
Then, there were complaints from MLAs about transport trucks becoming carriers of coronavirus. The governor said he took it up with the government but nothing happened.
“When I told the PM, he said he found out it wasn’t happening. I said those who are doing it are the same who are telling you… Anyway, I learnt after a few days that I had to go,” he recalled.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)