Not in the prime ministerial race, but country wants a new PM: Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow: The country is looking for a new prime minister and the BJP needs to come out with a new face, if it has one, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said Monday while making it clear that he is not in the race for the top post. “As far as leadership issue is concerned, it is actually the people who decide it…you will see, in time to come, how many choices we have,” he told reporters here when asked as to who would be the leader of opposition parties against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He, however, made it clear that he was “not in the prime ministerial race”. “But, one thing is totally clear that the country is waiting for a new prime minister…if the BJP, which is so concerned about us, has a new prime minister, they should tell the people,” Yadav, who recently shared platform with opposition leaders in Kolkata, said. To a question, the SP president said the SP and the BSP have taken a decision on most of the seats and an announcement in this regard will be made soon. “As far as SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav is concerned, the party will field him from the seat of his choice,” he said.

Asked whether his wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav will contest polls again, Akhilesh said, “We are liberal people…If you say she will contest. If you say we are practicising ‘pariwarwad’, she will not.” On the controversy over BJP MLA Sadhana Singh’s remarks against BSP president Mayawati, he said the language being used by ruling party leaders is the result of their frustration. “Since the BJP did nothing during its tenure, how will its leaders talk about work…now that the elections are nearing, there will be a lot of more things as well,” he said.

Without naming the prime minister, Yadav said, “The one who is occupying the highest position is also using such language.” On the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, which started Monday in Varanasi, he said, “Since many years, we are waiting for NRIs to invest in the state…maybe those coming here will have a change of heart after seeing Kumbh and taking a holy dip in the Ganga, and they will invest in a big way.” He, however, said some policies, decisions and confidence was required for making those sitting on the dias in the Pravasi Diwas function invest in the state.

“Thoko (shoot) policy will not bring confidence…I will ask them to use Lucknow-Agra expressway during their return journey and then they will know as to who works and who is betraying the people,” the former chief minister said. On reports that the Yogi Adityanath government was preparing to give pension to seers, Yadav said they should get at least Rs 20,000 per month as pension. “Those reciting Ramayana and other such persons should be given at least Rs 20,000 monthly pension. Those playing roles of Ram, Lakshman and Sita should also be given pension. Yash Bharti awards should also be re-started,” he said.

He also called for restarting the Samajwadi Pension scheme and the one for Yash Bharti awardees which was given by the previous government. On Kumbh, Akhilesh demanded that Centre hand over the Allahabad Fort to the state. “In Kumbh, there is a provision of giving ‘daan’. The Centre should give the fort in ‘daan’ to the state so that people could pay obeisance at Akshay Vat there,” he said. On the occasion, Pichda Samaj Swabhiman Party chief VK Singh announced its merger in SP and vowed to work for it.

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