Lucknow: He is possibly the only one from the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh to have the ears of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Accredited with the groundwork for the party’s unprecedented success in the Lok Sabha elections where it won 71 of the state’s 80 seats, Laxmikant Bajpayi is an angry old man. He now charges the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) with engaging in the politics of vendetta against BJP workers.
“This government is out to demoralize and harass our party cadres, as was evident in Kaanth, but we are not ones to be cowed down,” Bajpayi told IANS at his modest office on the Vidhan Sabha Marg.
The four-time legislator said he has knocked the doors of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and would approach the SC/ST and women’s commissions to lodge complaints against the state government for the excesses perpetrated on BJP workers by the police in the aftermath of the Kaanth episode in Moradabad.
BJP workers protesting the taking down of loudspeakers from a temple, he charged, were subjected to inhuman treatment by the police and were forced to drink urine, beaten up with shoes and called names like ‘chamaar’.
“I am very clear that within the constitutional framework, we will do everything to take on this government,” he said, while scotching rumours that the central government was under pressure from the state BJP unit to dismiss the Akhilesh Yadav government.
“Neither by use of article 356, nor by engineering defections, but through democratic norms, we will overthrow this government,” he pointed out.
In the middle of the tete-a-tete, he abruptly turns his attention to a screen beaming live pictures from the 16 CCTV cameras in every corner of the sprawling party office.
“This young man has destoryed everything,” he mumbles suddenly. Asked who this young man was, he snapped: “Aur kaun (Who else), Akhilesh Yadav.”
Terming the chief minister a “big disappointment” he went on to accuse Akhilesh Yadav of spiking the chances of wannabe young politicians.
“When he stormed to power there was hope and all political parties began giving credence to youth power and began looking up to them. But Akhilesh’s failure has doomed prospects of many a young leader,” Bajpayi says while pointing out that parties are now in for a rethink and are looking for experienced youth.
Asked to rate the state government, pat came the reply: “Minus 10.”
Charging the two-and-a-half-year-old state government with presiding over anarchy, he said the administration, after initially kindling the hopes of the people, had turned into a nightmare for citizens.
“He promised a turn-around in the power sector, sprucing up of the law and order and initiating measures to knock off all the ills he inherited from the predecessor Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government, but he has failed on all fronts. Ask anyone, even a kid will tell you how big a disaster Akhilesh is for UP,” he mused, seated amid pictures of party veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani Murli Manohar Joshi et al.
Not one to be bogged down with religious over-indulgence – a brass pot of Ganga Jal is carefully kept with a statue of Lord Ganesha behind his back, figurines of other Hindu deities line up the showcase and his forehead seldom misses the vermillion ‘tika’ – he however trashed charges of polarising the state on communal lines.
“We are wedded to the ethos of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikaas’ he explained while admitting that he was a very god-fearing person. “This government in the state is out to appease a particular community by humiliating others. How can this be acceptable?” he asked.
Bajpayi seems reluctant to take a plunge into national politics as is being rumoured for bigger things after the coronation of Amit Shah as the BJP president. Shah and Bajpayi had teamed up as a deadly combo in the state and turned a moribund organisation into a winning one.
“Well, party ka aadesh sadaiv kii tarah sar aankhon par abhi rajya mein bhajpa kii sarkaar banwaane ka lakshya adhura hai (Will adhere to the party’s decision but I have to fulfil the unfinished task of forming a BJP government in UP),” he said.
The bypolls to 12 assembly seats are the biggest challenge for the party as these were vacated by the BJP incumbents who were elected to the Lok Sabha. Crediting the charisma of Modi, the leadership of Amit Shah and the 24×7 labour of the workers of Team UP for the never-before success in Uttar Pradesh, Bajpayi said he hoped to repeat the victory in the “challenging bypolls”.
Asked if the Modi wave was ebbing, he answered in the negative.
“Modi-ji has won the mandate for five years and the world will see that the hopes he has generated will turn into reality. There cannot be any doubt about it. It has just been two months since the BJP has assumed power at the centre. Flushing out the ills we inherited will take time, but the sincerity of our government is beyond doubt,” he said while speaking of various initiatives taken by the union government.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)