Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has said, Samajwadi Party "should express gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central government for conferring Padma Vibhushan to Late Mulayam Singh Yadav posthumously, but, it is sad that the word 'gratitude' does not exist in their dictionary".
In an exclusive interview with India TV anchor Saurav Sharma last night in Lucknow, Yogi Adityanath spoke on several issues including Azam Khan, Mukhtar Ansari, the use of bulldozers and encounters with criminals.
Asked whether BJP was eyeing Yadav vote bank by conferring the Padma award to the late SP supremo, Yogi replied, "BJP never indulges in vote bank politics. Those who do not have the word 'gratitude' in their dictionary, should not give us advice."
Asked whether BJP leaders had reservations because Mulayam Singh Yadav had ordered firing on kar sewaks in Ayodhya, when he was chief minister, Yogi replied: "An individual may have a dark side on an issue, but he had a bright side too. He served society (lok sewa) with sincerity too. BJP never discriminates while conferring Padma awards."
On his recent remark about Sanatan Dharma, Yogi Adityanath said, "Sanatan Dharma is a way of life. It is India's oldest dharma. All other religions originated from Sanatan Dharma. They are the branches of Sanatan Dharma, which has been defined as a way of life. Modes of worship can be different. It can be Buddhism or Jainism too. People who followed Sanatan Dharma gave protection to all religions in times of danger. The first mosque in India was built by a Hindu king in Kerala. We do not view Sanatan Dharma as a mode of worship."
On the recent controversy over Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas with SP leader Swami Prasad Maurya demanding deletion of some lines in which women and Shudras have been mentioned, Yogi said, "This is a crude attempt to divert the attention of the people from development. They want to dilute our development agenda. They are doing disservice to the state."
Yogi Adityanath is hosting Global Investors Summit in Lucknow from February 10 to 12.
On Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan's allegation that Muslim voters were not allowed to vote by police during the recent Rampur Sadar assembly byelection, Yogi Adityanath replied: "The voting percentages of Hindus and Muslims were almost equal. The fact is, Muslim voters did not want to vote for them. This was clear when they lost the assembly and Lok Sabha elections from Rampur. The people of Rampur are replying to the state of anarchy that was prevalent earlier. They were muzzled and persecuted. A 250-year-old madrasa was closed down. Ancient rare manuscripts were destroyed and Raza Library was brought to ruins. For setting up Jauhar University, land of poor, Dalits and weaker sections of Muslims were forcibly occupied. Land allotted for a research centre was used to run a public school."
On action taken against gangsters-turned-politicians like Mukhtar Ansari and Ateeq Ahmed, the UP chief minister said: "Mukhtar Ansari committed his first crime in 1978, and committed the first murder in 1984. Why was no action taken then? Because, he managed to get political protection from the parties which were in power. For the first time in 44 years, this mafia leader was convicted, once by a lower court and also by the High Court. There were charges of murder, kidnappings, land grabbing, against him. He used to move openly in a jeep waving swords and pistols."
On Ateeq Ahmed, the UP chief minister said: "In Prayagraj, he grabbed hundreds of acres of public land and land belonging to Development Authority, and set up colonies. There was nobody to challenge him for the crimes that he committed. When we came to power, we modernized the state police, took action against mafia leaders, and recruited 1.60 lakh police personnel from all 75 districts."
Asked about the spate of encounters in UP, Yogi Adityanath said: "Many policemen were martyred in the fight with gangsters. The dreaded gangsters (durdant apradhi) were running a parallel government. It was not an easy task to take action against them."
On his reputation as "Bulldozer Baba", Yogi Adityanath said: "I am a yogi. I want to remain a yogi and work for the betterment of my people. I have no objection to any such phrases. Every good work is either praised or criticized. Whatever action was taken was within the ambit of the law. Notices were issued to people who had made illegal constructions. We even collected demolition charges from them. They had occupied government land, enemy property land and those of poor people. My government is committed to follow zero tolerance against such people."
Yogi said, "From 2007 to 2012, there were more than 350 communal riots in UP. From 2012 till 2017 (during Akhilesh Yadav's rule), there were nearly 700 riots, but since 2017 till date, not a single riot has taken place."
The chief minister said, "out of Rs 4.68 lakh crore investment proposals last year, work has begun on investments worth more than Rs 4 lakh crore. Each investor is being taken care of by a CM Research Fellow, who directly reports to the CM Office, to provide help. Through MSMEs, 1.61 crore people have been provided direct employment, out of which only 5 lakh jobs were given by the state government. Under the 'One District, One Product' scheme, more than Rs 1.60 lakh crore worth of goods from UP have been exported. We are focusing on investments in all the 75 districts."