Interview: Sudhindra Bhadoria

‘No truck with the BJP’

Print edition : March 17, 2017

Sudhindra Bhadoria.

The crowd at a BSP rally on February 10 in Moradabad, which voted on February 15. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Interview with BSP spokesperson Sudhindra Bhadoria.

What is the Bahujan Samaj Party’s assessment of the first four phases?

The BSP was expected to do exceptionally well in the first two phases of polling given the demographic pattern of those areas, where Dalits and Muslims constitute 60 to 70 per cent in some of the constituencies. Subsequently, as the wind started to blow in the BSP’s favour, in the next two phases, in Central U.P. and Bundelkhand, also we did exceptionally well.

How did you arrive at this conclusion?

Mayawatiji is perceived as the one person who can provide law and order for all, particularly women. Dalits and Muslims too feel secure in her rule. Finally, and most importantly, farmers and unemployed youth get the best deal when she is in power. Besides, in western U.P. and some other areas, she gave a very good deal to growers of sugarcane, potato, paddy and wheat when she was the C.M. For instance, she nearly doubled the price of sugarcane to Rs.240 a quintal from Rs.140 a quintal under Mulayam Singh Yadav as C.M. This increased their purchasing power and improved education, health, housing and all other aspects of life. She has promised to write off farmers’ loans to the tune of Rs.1 lakh each if elected to power. So marginal farmers stand to gain greatly from her.

What is your response to Modi’s shamshan-kabristan comment?

What kind of a campaign is this? They have forgotten sabka saath, sabka vikas, acche din, black money, farmers and youth. They are talking about scam, Kasab, gadha (donkey), shamshan, kabristan. These are irrelevant things which are not concerns of the people of U.P. They are trying to vitiate the atmosphere. Akhilesh Yadav is hand in glove with them and also playing a supportive role by calling him [Narendra Modi] a donkey.

Some Muslims are voting for the BSP, but the majority are still with the S.P.

I would dispute this. An overwhelming population of Muslims is voting for us as it feels secure. There are a couple of factors for this: there have been no communal riots during the four terms of Behenji as C.M., while only in one term of Akhilesh, there have been more than 400 riots. Modiji keeps talking of Godhra, shamshan-kabristan, Kasab, ramzade, Pakistan, and I don’t want to use the words the BJP leadership has been using. They make it so murky. Therefore, under all circumstances, people who want harmony, development, peace and progress will vote for the BSP. The poor in U.P. are all with the BSP. Seven crore of the 22 crore in U.P. live under the poverty line and they are basically Dalits and Muslims. There are OBCs [other backward classes] and others too. Behenji has said that if she comes to power she will give reservation to upper class poor also.

The concept of Dalit-Muslim unity was propounded by Kanshi Ram and had all but disappeared until recently.

There is a reason for that. Dalit-Muslim unity was always on the party's agenda, but this time, we reiterated it with some force as these communities are the ones who bore the maximum brunt: look at Una, Rohith Vemula, Muzaffarnagar, Najeeb in JNU…. There is a pattern to it and these sections have been completely marginalised. Their welfare is not on the agenda of the present dispensation. So Mayawatiji has reiterated forcefully that power will be used to protect these sections.

Some Muslims are aggrieved that Mayawati did not say anything during the Muzaffarnagar riots.

That is absolutely wrong. The parliamentary proceedings of the Rajya Sabha are proof of her interventions. Our party members, leaders and workers, along with other members of civil society carried out rehabilitation and extended support to these sections in the Muzaffarnagar, Dadri and all other such cases.

How are you countering the Akhilesh-Rahul combine?

We don’t have to counter them as they are countering each other every day. There are several seats where the two parties are fighting each other.

The induction of Mukhtar Ansari, who faces criminal charges, has dented the BSP’s credibility on the issue of law and order.

Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims have made statements in support of the party. Mayawatiji has not asked anybody to give these statements. If somebody wants to support us with a view that she will maintain social and communal harmony, we cannot say no we will not take support from you. In fact, all these names that you are taking have grown in the nursery of the Samajwadi Party. Take the example of Gayatri Prajapati. He is the face of the S.P. in Amethi and was involved in gang rape. His father, known to be a socialist leader, says “rapes happen, and should be forgiven”. From where have they created this new kind of socialism that legitimises rape? They have blossomed on the S.P. breeding ground.

Our view on criminalisation of politics is that it is the responsibility of the government at the Centre, the Prime Minister and the Election Commission, to create a level playing field and see that anybody charged with murder or rape and other heinous crimes is completely cut off from electoral politics. We don’t have such people in our party. Maybe some cases have been levelled against a few, which are under judicial scrutiny. Therefore, I think it is proper to have a holistic approach on this rather than pointing at a political party, which is a party of the Dalits and the poor. What criminalisation can we do? We will always end up bearing the brunt of these rogues. Besides, Mayawatiji does not hesitate to take steps against her own MLAs, MPs or even Ministers if they are found guilty. The prime examples are Shekhar Tiwari, who is languishing in jail, and Babusingh Kushwaha, who was forced to resign.

What happens if the BSP falls short of the numbers to form the government…?

We don’t need to join hands with anybody. We will get a majority on our own. Akhilesh has admitted that the tie-up with the Congress was because of his majboori (helplessness). We don’t want to do anything in majboori as then you can’t bring majbooti (strength). Besides, we [the BSP and the Congress] are ideologically two different parties. We belong to the Ambedkar school of thought, while they belong to the school of thought that is exploitative in this society. If they are trying to change, they should prove it with their deeds rather than pay lip service. The S.P. is trying to malign us by spreading [rumours] that Behenji will join hands with the BJP. She has made it unequivocally clear that she will have no truck with the BJP. She will neither accept nor give any support. Even if we fall short by five seats, we will prefer to sit in the opposition.

If Mayawati loses this election, it will be a huge setback for her politically.

Well... we have grown from scratch. Babasaheb [Ambedkar] himself had won and lost many elections. Victory does not make us arrogant and defeat does not deter us from our determination to move forward.

Your views on the BSP’s foray into social media.

Social media is the buzz for us. It is a spontaneous campaign where we are getting enormous support from unknown quarters too. As far as mainstream media is concerned, Behenji is positive about the role of the media, which is important in a democracy, a fact underscored by both Babasaheb and Kanshi Ram. But this time round, certain media houses have been very negatively disposed towards us. She has also made it clear that opinion polls were doctored and done with a deliberate design to misguide public opinion and electoral behaviour. However, our supporters are rock solid behind us and campaigns against us have not been able to dent this support. We are assured of a thumping victory.

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