Lucknow: Dismissing any challenge from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Uttar Pradesh Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya on Sunday mockingly called her “Twitter Vadra” and said it would be a big achievement for her if the Congress retains its seven seats in next year’s Assembly polls.
The senior BJP leader also brushed aside contest from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), saying they should feel happy if they secure the number of seats they got in the 2017 polls.
Maurya also refused to accord any importance to the Aam Aadmi Party and Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM, describing them as “vote katwa” (spoiler of votes).
Asked as to who will be the CM face of the BJP in the elections, Maurya who had lost the race to Yogi Adityanath last time sounded evasive, saying it is his party’s central leadership that decides after consultation with legislators.
Downplaying the announcement made by the Congress leader that her party will give 40 per cent tickets to women, Maurya said it would be “big achievement” for the Congress if it repeats its feat of getting seven MLAs in the polls.
“The Congress does not exist in UP. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, they got two MPs from UP and in 2019 Lok Sabha election, it was further reduced to one MP,” he said.
“Similarly, in the 2017 UP Assembly elections, the Congress got seven seats and in the 2022 polls, if it manages to repeat the figure of seven, then it will be a big achievement,” he told PTI in an interview.
“Almost the same is the condition of the SP and the BSP, whose tenure people have not forgotten, and will never forget as corruption, crime, encouragement to mafia, casteism and appeasement dominated,” Maurya said.
The SP had bagged 47 seats out of 403 in the previous elections while Mayawati’s party had to settle for 19 seats.
Maurya said though both parties are talking about backwards, Dalits and upper castes, they are not well-wishers of anyone.
“They only want to gain power, exploit people and fill their pockets with public money,” Maurya alleged.
When asked as to whether he feels that Priyanka has established herself as an alternative to the BJP in UP, Maurya said, “I think you (media) are seeing her more in the role of an opposition. I call Priyanka Gandhi Vadraji as Twitter Vadra. I don’t think that barring those interested in getting their photographs clicked, there is anyone in the Congress.” “Yes, they have an expertise in getting their photographs clicked, be it Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rahul Gandhi or any other leader of the Congress. In the race of getting their photos clicked they are ahead of the SP and the BSP. But, these three parties have failed to make any place in public’s heart,” he claimed.
On the question who will be the CM face of the BJP, Maurya said, “Who am I to decide this. We have our central leadership. The central observers come and the leader of the legislative party is elected by newly-elected MLAs in the presence of central observers.” “At present, respected Yogi Adityanathji is our chief minister, and Yogiji and we are making efforts to ensure victory for the BJP in the UP elections,” he added.
Maurya, who as the BJP state unit chief had played a crucial role in mobilising support of the non-Yadav OBC castes for the party in the 2017 elections, said there is “no challenge” to the BJP.
“In the 2017 UP Assembly elections, we won 325 seats and our endeavour is that how can we win more than 325 seats this time. This is a challenge for us,” he said.
Most promises that the party had made to people have been fulfilled and this has been done in a span of three-and-half years, he claimed, adding that about one-and-half year was lost to COVID-19.
The work done by this government will comprehensively outweigh the work done by the SP and the BSP in 15 years, he claimed.
On SP chief Akhilesh Yadav claiming that his party will win 400 seats, Maurya said, “How many seats was Akhilesh Yadav claiming to win in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and in the 2017 UP Assembly elections? In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he even dreamt of becoming the prime minister. Eventually, the claims of the SP were found to be hollow.” “At the ground level, their organisation has no one except criminals and mafia. They do politics on the basis of caste and appeasement, from which Uttar Pradesh has come out,” he said.
On the opposition parties resorting to “soft-Hindutva”, Maurya said, “This is the ideological victory of the BJP.