Rita Bahuguna Joshi, made news last year in October when she ended her 24-year-old association with the Congress to join the BJP instead. She is fighting against Samajwadi Party’s Aparna Yadav from the Lucknow Cantonment constituency. Excerpts from her interview:
Q: After spending decades with the Congress, and a short stint with the AP, what made you shift to the BJP?
A: The shift was necessary. Uttar Pradesh is being increasingly associated with mafiaism, corruption and falling moral standards—all of which are characteristics of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government. On the other hand, Congress is being rejected by the people. Leaders in Congress had begun to compromise with the ruling party (SP), and I saw nobody was serious about fighting it. Meanwhile, Narendra Modi has won people’s confidence; his government is what the public wants. And in the interest of the nation, one must fall in line with people’s will.
Q: Don’t you think people will doubt your credibility and ideology?
A: They have appreciated my joining the BJP. I have been a strong critic of RSS, and of Mr Modi’s style of functioning. Ideology is a very important component of a politician, but when it comes to the future of your own state one must not be rigid. Also, are the BSP and SP custodians of the safety of minorities? These parties are invoking Dalits by creating hatred for the upper caste. Are these good people?
Talking about Congress, I feel in UP, it has become non-existent and the BJP is a strong alternative to an efficient governance. The Congress’ attitude has become arrogant and is no longer a subject of political appeal. I strongly feel that 2014 is going to be replicated in these elections too.
Q: Did you have any idea about an SP-Congress alliance before joining BJP?
A: As soon as the some Congress MLAs started hinting that they wouldn’t be able to pull off the UP elections alone, I got an inkling that they were up for an alliance. When Rahul Gandhi came up with Khaat Panchayats, he would only criticise PM Modi, without attacking the BJP or saying a word against Akhilesh Yadav. That’s when I sensed that the cat was out of the bag.
Q: How do you see Aparna Yadav as an opponent?
A: She is banking too much on her family name. She feels that money and power will be able to make her win, but one thing that she doesn’t realise is that the Lucknow is a middle-class city that cannot alone be won by “show power”.