Varanasi: “Even a Pakistani student is trying to grab an Indian flag to escape Ukraine. This is not a simple achievement. I feel proud that in the war between Russia and Ukraine, Indian students are being evacuated safely,” said Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Though this claim of Pakistani students using the Tricolour has been disputed, Maurya’s point is that under PM Narendra Modi, “the value of the Indian Tricolour has increased”.
Indian students stuck in Ukraine were one of the many subjects Maurya spoke about in an interaction with ThePrint, days before campaigning for the final phase of the UP elections (on 7 March) comes to an end.
Maurya asserted that the BJP government under CM Yogi Adityanath had “improved” the law and order situation in UP, and said “those who think they can fight these (assembly) elections on the basis of muscle power — their era has come to an end”.
The Deputy CM also denied opposition parties’ charge that the BJP is indulging in polarisation, and said the government had been working for the welfare of all, and focussed on creating employment opportunities for people.
But, he also said, “whether it is Jai Siya Ram, Jai Shri Ram, Har Har Mahadev, Jai Shri Krishna or Jai Mata Di, we will continue to chant these slogans. If someone is pained by them, then it’s their problem, we don’t care about it. We will continue raising the slogans”.
‘Will do better than 2017’
Maurya expressed confidence that the BJP would do even better than the 2017 state elections, when it had breached the 300 mark in the 403-seat UP Assembly.
“Our agenda was always development and will always be development only. Our agenda is to keep the law and order maintained, and we are fighting the election on the same. The opposition is running away from the main issues. (West Bengal CM) Mamata Banerjee should worry about saving her state as we are coming in 2024 to wipe her out from West Bengal,” he said.
Targeting SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Maurya quipped: “He has to wait for 25 more years to even think about forming a government (in UP). Right now, he’s barely managing to even sit in the opposition.”
According to Maurya, the BJP government had managed to deliver on all fronts in UP, despite the Covid pandemic.
He also denied the opposition charge of huge unemployment in UP, and said the Yogi government had been working in that direction and jobs had been created in the private sector too.
“They (opposition) don’t know anything. The kind of government jobs we have provided and jobs we have created in the private sector speak for themselves. We have also improved the infrastructure, which in turn has generated employment opportunities. Right from labourers to engineers, to businessmen, all have been provided opportunities,” the deputy CM insisted.
One major issue that the opposition has highlighted in UP during the state polls is of stray cattle, and even PM Modi acknowledged it in one of his rallies. The opposition has blamed the UP government’s policy on cow protection for the same.
Maurya, however, said: “The double-engine government (the BJP’s phrase for its governments in states while it is also in power at the Centre) has done tremendous amount of work for the state. We have improved the law and order situation, and worked for the farmers, youth, and the poor. Our government has worked for everyone’s welfare.”
He also expressed confidence about winning all eight seats again in Varanasi district, like the BJP did in 2017. “Doubt is only in the mind of the opposition. There’s no doubt in the mind of the public,” he asserted.
Taking a dig at Akhilesh and former CM Mayawati of the BSP, Maurya added: “Bua-bhateeja (aunt and nephew) ruined the state together for 15 years. We have tried to fix it and put it back on track in five years. Purvanchal’s (East UP) situation will be better and in fact the entire state would perform much better,” he said.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)