UP law minister Brajesh Pathak, who was once part of Bahujan Samaj Party as a Member Parliament from Unnao, before he was handpicked by then party president Amit Shah ahead of 2017 Utttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha elections. Pathak was in 2021, ahead of 2022 polls, was inducted into the prestigious national executive body of the BJP, keeping in mind his seniority and stature as the Brahmin face of the party. As a law minister, he was pivotal in tabling the love jihad and anti-conversion bill that seeks rigorous jail term of upto 10 years. He spoke to The New Indian’s Executive Editor Rohan Dua on the change in his seat from Lucknow Central to Lucknow Cantonment and whether he managed to pip other Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s son and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter in law Aparna Yadav who may have been in the race to become the candidate on BJP ticket. He also insisted Vikas, not love jihad would be the issue in all phases including Phase 4 of which his seat is part of.
Rohan Dua: You are a prominent cabinet minister of UP government who is part of Phase 4 polls on February 23.
Brajesh Pathak: I am completely confident that people will vote in huge numbers in favour of BJP
Rohan Dua: If I see your career from BSP to your entry in BJP, I see you have come a long way with both acceptance and growth.
Brajesh Pathak: Will never forget the love that BJP gave me and will be forever thankful for BJP and also thank party workers.
Rohan Dua: Sunderkand Path is taking place ahead of polls. I remember coming to interview you between 2017 to 2021 when you abolished a lot of laws, then your brought on love-jihad law. Is it as relevant as the hijab controversy?
Brajesh Pathak: In UP a lot of goons from one particular religion would use pseudonyms like Guddu, Babloos” used to take our daughters over pretext of marriages and then leave them six months later. We brought this law to end religious conversion. They destroyed llives
Rohan Dua: Will the law on love jihad tabled by your government affect the election outcome as CM Yogi Adityanath has called this election 80 vs 20, with a clear hint of polarisation?
Brajesh Pathak: We are fighting elections in terms of development and progress. Fighting to rise the status of minority and poor people
Rohan Dua: What are your top five bills that you passed as UP law minister?
Brajesh Pathak: We brought the repeal bill and abolished over lakhs of bills which were a burden to the court. Bills like chain snatching used to be taken easily but now rigorous punishments in place. Brought many other such laws for safety of people which they wanted.
Rohan Dua : Your constituency has changed this time from Lucknow Central to Lucknow Cantonment
Brajesh Pathak: It doesn’t matter, entire Lucknow is ours and people are blessing me.
Rohan Dua: But there have been lot of murmurs that the entire Brahmin community is disappointed with the BJP leadership in UP?
Brajesh Pathak: It is all false, I’m from the community, I talk to the people. I’m from the family. Opposition started this rumour and were unsuccessful in the same. Brahmins stand with BJP.
Rohan Dua: I am asking this because I went to Lakhimpur Kheri with you, you were the only leader who went there as you felt that the community was disappointed that no other leader had visited the bereaved family of driver of Ajay Mishra Teni whose son was booked by UP Police over killing of farmers.
Brajesh Pathak: I go to everyone, people who are suffering, I always extend my help to them. It is my duty and responsibility.
Rohan Dua: If BJP comes to power, will you be deputy CM or a minister again?
Brajesh Pathak: It is on the party and I’ll work tirelessly for the party
Rohan Dua: How are you spending your day today?
Brajesh Pathak: It is a good day, meeting party workers, managing polling booths, and it is Tuesday so doing Sundekand.
Rohan Dua: The Hijab controversy has picked up at a time when UP elections is seeing participation of Muslims in third and fourth phase. Muslims form the backbone of SP, BSP and Congress votebank. Your take?
Brajesh Pathak: I don’t think such incident will occur in the UP, we are fighting for development and progress. People agree UP is growing rapidly and a lot of development has happened. We gave electricity, housing to 45 lakh people, build toilets. This election is on development.
Rohan Dua: Whenever I used to come to your office, you used to tell me appointment of officers in law and order, what’s the result?
Brajesh Pathak: We have made lot of appointments in our judicial system in UP and strengthened them. A lot of benefit has happened, a lot of criminals have been punished.
Rohan Dua: There have been allegations on SP. Union I&B minister and UP polls co-incharge Anurag Thakur alleged has Akhilesh Yadav and his party harbours terrorists and doesn’t allow India to be at peace by constantly aligning with those who perpetrate terror attacks in India while citing the reason judgment in Ahmedabad blast cases where an SP neta is under lens now.
Brajesh Pathak: The DNA of SP is embedded with corruption, mafia, gunda raj, Party is filled with people like that.
Rohan Dua: How much confident are you today as fourth phase elections would define careers of many ministers in Lucknow?
Brajesh Pathak: I am 100% confident that we’ll win with a higher margin than last time.
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