The memories of Bollywood cine stars gyrating to their own hip-shaking numbers in the rural settings of Saifai, the home turf of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family, are thing of a past when Samajwadi Party’s Man Friday Amar Singh or Azam Khan and Abu Azmi would help them connect with the Mumbai film industry. This time as SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav makes a bid to comeback, there are no stars to be seen in his campaign even as the family has reunited after 2017 debacle. The New Indian’s Executive Editor Rohan Dua caught up with Akhilesh’s first cousin and former Budayu MP Dharmendra Yadav, who spoke on a host of issues. Excerpts.
Rohan: You did a huge campaign show yesterday at Karhal. They entire family was present. But the BJP says it’s just a family show and that you all are dynasts which restricts internal democracy of Samajwadi Party (SP).
Dharmendra Yadav: This is not a family show. This is the show of the people of Karhal. Everyone wants Akhilesh Yadav to win. BJP has no issues to talk about, hence harping on ‘family show’ to divert the attention. But the people are wholeheartedly supporting Akhileshji.
Rohan: It is believed that Mainpuri, Etawah, Etah are the bastions of ‘Yadavs’. Are you getting support of other communities as well?
Dharmendra Yadav: Everyone is supporting it, and with their support we will get a historical mandate and form the government in the state. Our leader Akhilesh is single-handedly lording over all the BJP leaders put together.
Rohan: Do you think non-Yadav OBCs will also lend their support to you?
Dharmendra Yadav: We are getting support of all the communities, be it non-Yadav OBCs, Dalits or upper castes. Muslims have always been with the Samajwadi party. So there is no issue.
Rohan: In the first two phases of the UP elections, RLD (SP’s alliance partner) were getting Jat votes and Muslims but not of other communities?
Dharmendra Yadav: Jats as well Muslims are voting for the alliance. As I said, all communities are voting for us.
Rohan: BJP says Dharmendra Yadav and Dimple Yadav have lost their nown seats (in Lok Sabha elections).
Dharmendra Yadav: Victories and defeats are part of politics. We accepted people’s mandate. We lost in the past, but this time we will create a history in the region as well as the state.
Rohan: If I talk about Budaun, Mainpuri, Etawah – which have been the bastions of your family – which are the development projects you have executed in these areas?
Dharmendra Yadav: Akhileshji has already declared that he will open an university in Karhal. In Mainpuri, Sainik schools and engineering colleges were opened. You can look at roads and highways. All the development-related work that were possible have been done. More will be done in future.
Rohan: I remember that Bollywood stars used to support your party a lot when the SP was in power in the state. That support seems to have tailed off this time.
Dharmendra Yadav: They used to come for different events and carnivals, not for election campaigning. Jaya Bachchan is a senior leader and a part of our family. She has always campaigned for the party and her support will always be there.
Rohan: Jats and farmers were the major issues in the first two phases of the polls. Which will be the main issues in the remaining phases?
Dharmendra Yadav: The progress of the UP, the welfare of farmers, employment for youngsters and basic amenities for impoverished people, the pension for the government employees are some of the issues which we are raising among people. We are getting tremendous support of people. Our alliance will win more than 100 seats, out of 113, which went to polls in the first two phases. By the time the polling for the fourth phase will begin, our alliance would have got majority.
Rohan: In 2017, Shivpal Yadav had left the party, but this time he has come back. Will his presence make a difference?
Dharmendra Yadav: When people come together, it is always beneficial. Respected chachaji (Shivpal Yadav) is with us and this will help us.
Rohan: But the BJP says you have given only one seat to him.
Dharmendra Yadav: Why is the BJP having a problem, when chachaji is fine with the arrangement.