‘No differences with Modi ji but dislike UP leadership’s workings’

Anupriya Patel, union minister of state for health, says that she has no differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but that the leadership of the Uttar Pradesh BJP has been ignoring her party. She also says that if the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh gives its nod to sub-categorization of OBCs, her party will oppose it tooth and nail

Anupriya Patel Kumar in conversation with Kumar Sameer

Why did you maintain a distance from Prime Minister’s tour of eastern UP? Any particular reason? What should we conclude from it?

You see, Ashish Patel, the national president of Apna Dal (S), has already made it clear that we have no differences with the honourable prime minister. We have issues with the manner of functioning of the government and the BJP organization in Uttar Pradesh. We are partners in the NDA government at the Centre and in the Uttar Pradesh government, too, but the state government and the BJP organization are ignoring Apna Dal. Our workers are not being given due importance. Whether it is the appointment of government pleaders or of chairmen and other functionaries of different corporations, boards and commissions, our workers are being overlooked. Only BJP leaders are being appointed to these bodies. That is why our party’s national president Ashish Patel was forced to approach the media.

Anupriya Patel, union minister of state for health

Your party has differences with the BJP over the sub-categorization of OBCs. You yourself have also raised the issue. What is the reason?

The issue of sub-categorization of OBCs is a sensitive one. You have to have a solid basis to do it. Caste census has not been conducted since 1931. Then, on what basis would you sub-categorize OBCs? We are not against it but our demand is that caste census should be conducted first to collect scientific data. Then, there are other burning issues. For instance, contractual appointments are being made to Class C and D posts in government departments and these jobs are being outsourced. Our party has long been demanding reservations in contractual appointments and in outsourcing, too. After the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, outsourcing and contractual appointments are increasingly becoming the norm in the government. A dark future thus awaits the brilliant youth of the reserved category. We have been demanding that either the DM [District Magistrate] or the SP [Superintendent of Police] of every district should be from the reserved category. Also, 50 per cent of those in charge of police stations should be from the reserved category.

If the BJP government goes ahead with sub-categorization of the OBCs, what will be your stand?

We will be firm on our demand: first, conduct a caste census and explain the basis of sub-categorization.

Upendra Kushwaha has quit the NDA. He says that that the Modi government is working against the OBCs. What is your take? 

We have a long battle ahead of us. The people of the reserved category will have to wage a long battle for their rights. They will have to raise their demands repeatedly. I don’t want to comment on what Upendra Kushwaha did. You’d better ask him why he did that.

Om Prakash Rajbhar has also been supporting sub-categorization of OBCs and has threatened that he will launch an agitation if that is not done. What is your stand on this?

What Rajbhar will do or won’t do is for him to decide. I don’t want to comment on his actions or statements. I have explained my stand to you: conduct a caste census and reveal the basis of sub-categorization.

What are your plans with regard to the Lok Sabha elections?

For the past year, we have been very serious about the Lok Sabha elections. Last January, we held our monthly state-level meeting in Azamgarh. Since then, we have been holding such meetings at places outside Lucknow. We are also working for strengthening the party organization. Necessary directives are being issued to the workers.

There are dissensions within your party. It is being said that you are prioritizing your personal interests over the party’s interests. What have you to say about this charge?

This charge is entirely baseless. Our party is completely united. In the Rajya Sabha elections, MLAs of other parties rebelled and voted for candidates other than their own party’s. But our MLAs voted for the BJP candidate. It was because of the unity of our MLAs that the BJP candidate won.

Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil


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