Dinesh Sharma, the Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, univocally says Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the party’s leader going into the 2022 elections, which he says the party will win by a bigger margin than 2017. Speaking to News18, Sharma slammed Akhilesh Yadav for misleading people on vaccination and said leaders like him sat at home during the pandemic rather than help people. Edited excerpts:
The Opposition has raised a lot of questions about divisions in the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and about issues between CM Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Those wanting to spread misinformation can do anything but they should first study and research about the BJP. In the BJP, there is neither matbhed nor manbhed. Here, our tradition is that everyone can keep forward his point of view but then when the decision happens at level of our top leadership, everyone accepts it jointly and works together. Yogi Adityanath is our leader and be it me or Keshav Prasad Maurya, we are working in his leadership in an excellent way.
So the 2022 election in UP will be fought under Yogi Adityanath’s leadership?
From where has this question even emerged? There is no such issue at all. Yogi Adityanath’s efficient leadership is a point of discussion in the entire country. The way Yogi Adityanath has performed, our national general secretary (organization) BL Santhosh has issued a statement. Defence minister Rajnath Singh has also issued a statement. Arun Singh, our national general secretary, has issued a statement officially as well. After all this, such a question should not even emerge.
What is your assessment of the election ahead?
I think no one has a doubt that BJP is again coming to power in UP in 2022 with an even bigger number of seats than in 2017. This is the people’s will also.
Among the Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress, who is your main competitor?
The hearts of all the opposition parties is one and their aim is one – to remove Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath. But hatao to kisko lao? They have no answer for that. All these parties have earlier got together in some way under various disguises and fought elections against us – and lost each time badly. They sometimes do public alliances and sometimes are in a hidden alliance to fool the people.
The opposition has been targeting the BJP in UP on the Covid pandemic and saying people have anger against your government.
During the pandemic, leaders of the opposition were sitting at home and tweeting away. In order to protect themselves, they did not even go to their village or their constituencies. But BJP workers were out to help people. Many of our cadre and functionaries were infected, many lost their lives, we lost MLAs and three ministers. But we did not sit at home. CM Yogi Adityanath got infected and on recovery went to every district across UP and checked the facilities for himself. Ministers remained on the duty as in charges in one-two districts each. This is the difference between us and them. This is their shortcoming why they did not go out to help people. Could they not run community kitchens or distribute masks, sanitisers and medical kits like BJP did?
Vaccination was slow in UP to begin with but has caught pace now.
There was one time when vaccination suffered for some time as the Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said this is BJP’s vaccine and don’t take it, and that he will take it when his government comes. SP leaders also issued statements like vaccines will lead to disease and infertility. Complete misinformation was spread. When they saw vaccine was being praised all over, they raised questions about vaccine’s availability. When that also did not work they said vaccine should be free. When the vaccine was free for all, they said this is Modi and Yogi’s politics. The Samajwadi Party tried to damage the vaccination exercise, and Congress too tried to do so by raising questions on its credibility. They should have avoided this but they chose to do this. They could have instead chosen to motivate people to get vaccinated and help them register but they did not do so, but only criticised us.
What are your main agenda points as you go into elections?
Record investment has come into UP and a high number of jobs have been given and generated in the private sector. Expressways are coming, farm loans were waived and we have cleared record sugarcane dues and operated all sugar mills in the state. Cities like Varanasi and Ayodhya are being transformed. No new tax was imposed on the public in the last four-and-a-half years. On Covid front, we have ventilator and oxygen beds in all districts now, over 480 oxygen plants being set up and many are operational already. If you see 4.5 years of our government in UP, we have not just worked as a political party but one with dedication towards people.