Mass exodus of ministers and BJP MLAs in Uttar Pradesh is a sign of frustration and negligence the leaders have been facing in the Yogi Adityanath team for the past several years. Supriya Shrinate, the journalist-turned AICC spokesperson, shares her viewpoint over the telephone with Manoj Varghese of Indian Currents on the present poll scenario in UP. She has been a close associate of Priyanka Gandhi all throughout her campaign of “ladki hu, lad sakti hu” and the ‘padhyatras’ of senior Congress leaders in connecting with the general public. She is one of the most vocal and feared orators by the BJP these days.
Q: What is this 80:20 ratio, the UP CM Yogi Adityanath is claiming?
A: In the past five years, the UP Govt has not delivered; unemployment is at its peak, farmers’ resentment is uncontrollable, the price rise is unbearable and there has been zero development. The party has nothing to showcase, except the hate speeches and thus is making all efforts to polarize the voters. A massive advertisement campaign has been caried out recently depicting the development by showcasing the dams in Andhra Pradesh, roads in the US and foreign students in their institutes. The ratio is an attempt to polarize and is totally provocative, which the sensible voters have realized and will revert with their votes.
Q: How will this data help the BJP?
A: BJP does not believe in any data. They did not have any data on the migrant labourers who returned to UP from other states. Neither did they have the count of bodies floating in the river. As per the per capita income, UP stands behind at 32 in the list of 36 states and Union Territories. Had they worked towards development, they would not have gone for such a rigorous advertisement campaign borrowing pictures from other developed states or countries.
Q: How will the exit of ministers, like that of Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chouhan and Dharam Singh Saini, impact the polls in UP?
A: Ministers are resigning and the MLAs are switching parties, is a sign of sinking ship. The party leaders, especially the SC/OBC MLAs are feeling neglected and duped. Three ministers and over 12 MLAs have quit BJP and the chain reaction is to follow pan India. The double engine government has failed to deliver. Nowhere across the world would have people witnessed the bodies floating on the banks of river during the corona pandemic. The funniest part is that no one has been held responsible for that heinous crime. The crime against women, especially towards Dalit women, has been at its peak in the recent years.
Q: ‘Ladki hu, Lad sakti hu’, and advocating for the downtrodden was a well projected Congress campaign kicked off to attract the women and Dalits. But, why have you adopted a lukewarm attitude now?
A: We started off on a high note and are still leading the campaign with our first list of 125 members out. And, as promised, 40 % of them, that is 50 of them are women candidates. It includes woman activist and ASHA worker Poonam Pandey from Shahjahanpur, mother of rape victim from Unnao Asha Singh, and genocide victim Ramraj Gond from Sonbhadra among others. Our motive is to empower the women folk in UP and strive towards delivering justice. Our move has forced the BJP to talk about the women issues. It is a turnaround time. We have not at all gone lukewarm, as you claim. Instead, Priyanka Gandhi had called off the large gatherings, owing to the spread of Corona and then came the Election Commission (EC) ordinance too. We are still carrying the door-to-door campaign, and that too very vigorously.
Q: Why was no effort made to reach out to the farmers, rebels and other like-minded parties?
A: This time, Congress is fighting alone, but with all its might. A sincere effort has been made to strengthen the organization to the block level by empowering our Congress cadets. The result, we are emerging strong and gaining more confidence. The earlier alliances were weakening our party.
Q: Why a poll strategy to form the Government in UP was not worked out?
A: We are contesting to win the elections and to form the Govt. Our first priority is to oust the BJP Govt. The youth, women and the Dalits are with us and they have made up their mind to get rid of the BJP from UP.
Q: Why was a collective effort of senior Congress leadership missing in the recent UP campaign?
A: That’s a wrong perception. Several senior leaders like P. L. Punia, Pramod Tiwari and others were part of our state-level ‘padhyatra’. In fact, almost 40% youth are contesting the elections this time on Congress ticket.
Q: Will the Congress support the SP, if they fall short of few MLAs to form the Govt?
A: Congress has gone out all alone, and are contesting to form the Govt. At the same time, all options are open to oust the BJP from coming to power. Any such possibility will be certainly explored as and when the need arises.
Q: What are the poll prospects of Congress in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Punjab?
A: Congress is coming back to power in Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand; and will retain the governance in Punjab. We consider the UP challenge to be an opportunity to bring back the past glory for Congress. We are taking up the issues that matter to the general public. The elections in the five states will not be the same as ever. These elections will set the tempo for the Parliament elections in 2024 too.