Rahul and Priyanka are opposed to each other, claims Keshav Prasad Maurya

UP DyCM claims Congress will give Muslims the first right to resources of the country

43-Keshav-Prasad-Maurya Keshav Prasad Maurya | Pawan Kumar

Interview/ Keshav Prasad Maurya, deputy chief minister, Uttar Pradesh

KESHAV PRASAD MAURYA is in a hurry, but hospitable, as he sits down for an interview. In his wood-panelled home-cum-office at Lucknow’s Kalidas Marg, adorned by the photos of Lord Balaji, Ram lalla and BJP ideologues, Maurya asks if a spot next to a fish tank would be best for photos. This is his second term as deputy chief minister, and he is very well liked by the BJP leadership. Excerpts from the interview:

Q/ On the eve of the fifth phase, how do you read the BJP’s chances?

A/ Both at the level of the state and the country, we are better placed than in 2014 or 2019. I am confident that with our allies we will win more than 400 seats and Modi ji will form the government.

Q/ The level of the dialogue and the language used in this election has been dismal. As the ruling party, is it not the BJP’s responsibility to maintain decency?

A/ That is not how it should be looked at. Understand it through the hidden agenda of the Congress. Look at history: to appease Muslims, the Congress got the country divided; brought Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370; made J&K the entry point for terrorists; gave Muslims the first right to the resources of the country; and kept Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi simmering. This changed Congress is like the Muslim League. They think Muslims are their vote bank especially because the OBCs, SCs and STs have slipped from their hands and… the general castes are with the BJP. Exposing this hidden agenda is my party’s duty. We have to bring to the public their statements such as Pakistan has an atom bomb and that we must be scared of it. If Pakistan has an atom bomb, do we only have Diwali pathakas (crackers)? As for inheritance tax, will the laws of the US rule the country which is run as per Baba Saheb’s Constitution?

Q/ But nowhere does the Congress manifesto explicitly say it will give the wealth of others to Muslims. It does not even talk of inheritance tax.

A/ The Congress has promised to do a survey of who has what resources/property in the country. What is this survey? If Hindus are a majority in this country and they work, pay their taxes and contribute to the development of the country, then it is they who have property and resources. It is they who will be surveyed. On the basis of that survey, they (the Congress) will give first rights to Muslims.

Q/ Why have your election pitches changed from development to stoking communal divides?

A/ Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas remains our slogan. Kuch ka saath, kuch ka vikas is the motto of the Congress and of the INDI Alliance. The Congress talks about vote jihad, not us. If they say something and we remain quiet, the public will think that the Congress is right.

Q/ Is there any substance to the fear that the Samajwadi Party will put a lock on the Ram Mandir?

A/ The Congress rejected the existence of Lord Ram in the Supreme Court. Their leaders said no to the invitation to the pran pratishtha ceremony. The SP sinned by ordering firing on unarmed Ram bhakts. They are filled with poison. Our former chief minister Kalyan Singh passed away and his body was brought to the Vidhan Sabha. Akhilesh Yadav was sitting 500 metres away, but he did not come to pay his respects. However, he travelled 500km to pray for Mukhtar Ansari. This is done so that Muslims are not offended. When the SP was in power, Muslim girls would get special scholarships, but not Hindus. That is why we say those who do the politics of Muslim appeasement and those who support Babar have the sinful thought of building a mosque in Babar’s name if they ever come to power.

Q/ What kind of understanding do you have with the Bahujan Samaj Party that it has almost wrapped up its campaign?

A/ This is a wrong observation. In the last Lok Sabha election, the SP, BSP, RLD were together and even the Congress was supporting them. We (with our allies) won 64 seats and got 51 per cent of the vote share. We do not want anyone’s blessings to win. We are with the public, our workers are among them. There are the achievements of the double engine government because of which we won the last four elections (Lok Sabha and assembly).

Q/ While a final choice in ticket distribution is made by the central leadership, does the state unit have no say in tickets to candidates like Ajay Mishra Teni and Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s son?

A/ The state gives a report on the basis of whihc the central election committee decides tickets. Whoever gets a ticket, does not get it on an individual basis. The ticket is given so that the kamal (lotus) blooms. No questions can be raised about the two tickets mentioned. Teni ji  has no charges against him and will win with a record margin. We have not given a ticket to Singh but to his son. If the filing of charges equals guilt, then even Rahul Gandhi’s candidature should be questioned.

Q/ What are your thoughts on Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Rae Bareli?

A/ Rahul was scared and ran away from Amethi. His sister, Priyanka, wants him to lose because he is not letting her fight the Lok Sabha elections. Congress insiders tell me that Rahul and Priyanka are opposed to each other. They are facing deep fissures and infighting.