Lucknow: Apna Dal (S) president Anupriya Patel on Sunday said “import-export” of leaders happens before elections and the recent exit of OBC legislators from the BJP will have no impact on the winning prospects of the NDA in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Ahead of the elections, which will begin next month, OBC leaders Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini quit the Yogi Adityanath cabinet and the BJP to join the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) along with some MLAs.
“It has become a tradition for leaders to switch sides before elections. Entry-exit and import-export keeps happening. I do not think people see this as something positive. They see it as opportunism,” Anupriya Patel, a Union minister and a prominent backward community leader whose party is an ally of the BJP in the state, told PTI in an interview.
When asked about the exit of the other backward class (OBC) leaders, she said, “It is not going to affect the health of the (BJP-led) National Democratic Alliance (in the state).”
“The population of backwards is more than 50 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and wherever they go, power goes there. Like in 2017, the NDA will get the support of the backward classes in 2022 also,” Anupriya Patel said.
The previous government in the state was that of the SP, which was defeated by the BJP in the 2017 assembly polls.
In 2017, the Apna Dal (S) had got 11 seats to contest according to the seat sharing arrangement of the NDA, and it won nine.
Anupriya Patel had formed an alliance with the BJP for the first time in 2014. In that year’s Lok Sabha elections, she won from Mirzapur and her party colleague Kunwar Harivansh Singh from Pratapgarh. She has been Union minister in both terms (2014 and 2019) of the BJP government at the Centre.
When asked about her mother Krishna Patel’s party’s alliance with the SP, Anupriya Patel said, “My mother is independent. She is free to go with any political party. The results of the last three elections have proved that supporters, well-wishers, workers, voters, supporters of the Apna Dal and ideology of its founder Dr Sonelal all stand with me.”
The Apna Dal was founded in 1995 by Anupriya Patel’s father Dr Sonelal Patel. After his death in an accident in 2009, she became active in politics and her mother Krishna Patel took over the reins of the party.
Later, due to differences between mother and daughter, the Apna Dal split.
Anupriya patel has not lost any election since 2012 while her mother’s party has not won a single seat so far.
The Apna Dal (S) chief first won in an assembly election in 2012 from the Rohaniya seat in Varanasi in alliance with Dr Ayub-led Peace Party.
When asked how many seats the NDA will win this time, Anupriya Patel said, “I will not make any claim on the changes in figures, but I am sure that we are going to form the government again.
“The NDA will make a grand comeback in Uttar Ptradesh,” she said.
On Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s slogan ‘Ladki Hun Lad Sakti Hun’, Anupriya Patel said that “this is an experiment to find a new base because there is no committed vote bank left for the Congress party and its organisation has also collapsed.”
“It’s an experiment to infuse new energy in the Congress. If there is any seriousness towards women’s participation, such experiments should be done where it has governments. People would have understood something if it was done,” she said.
Asked about the Apna Dal (S)-BJP seat sharing for the polls, Anupriya Patel said, “Very soon we will reach a conclusion and only then will we be able to tell the number of seats.”
On SP’s slogan ‘UP Mein Inquilab Hoga-2022 Mein Badlav Hoga’, she said, “Akhilesh ji’s party was in the government earlier also. His father, ‘Netaji’ (Mulayam Singh Yadav) led the state government thrice and Akhilesh ji once, but could not bring revolution in their tenures.”
On allegations of Maurya and Chauhan about neglect towards OBCs and Dalits, the Union minister said, “Backward classes were given attention earlier too, and now, the NDA will consider giving more attention.”
“We are with the BJP as a small ally. BJP has 312 seats in Uttar Pradesh and we have nine MLAs. In future, if we are in a position, we will certainly tell our views about selection of chief minister. As far as the selection chief minister in 2017 was concerned, it is completely an internal matter of the BJP.” she said.
When asked whether she will bat for chief minister from the backward community this time, she said, “I do not want to create a controversy at present. I will completely say that it is for the BJP to decide. BJP has an assessment of the conditions of the society.
On whether the present dispensation has done enough for backwards, Anupriya Patel said, “It is not that all questions related to rights of the backwards, Dalits and downtrodden have ended and all problems were resolved, but some matters were resolved and some good work was done.”
She credited the Modi government for the backward class commission getting constitutional status and reservation in admission in Navoday Vidyalayas.