FE Exclusive | Casteism a blot on UP, AAP here to challenge it this election: Sanjay Singh

AAP leader Sanjay Singh maintains that the party has made all the right moves to present itself as a credible alternative that can deliver upon the promises of a welfare government in Uttar Pradesh. The party’s acceptability in the state is also increasing, he claims.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh maintains that the party has made all the right moves to present itself as a credible alternative that can deliver upon the promises of a welfare government in Uttar Pradesh. The party's acceptability in the state is also increasing, he claims.

The road to Delhi inevitably passes through Uttar Pradesh, a state which sends the highest number of representatives to Parliament. The debut of the Aam Aadmi Party in this crucial state was also seen as a step by the party towards consolidating its presence as a credible national alternative. As Punjab remains the top priority for AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, it is his trusted lieutenant Sanjay Singh who is holding fort in UP where the party faces possibly its toughest battle so far. After failed alliance talks with the Samajwadi Party, AAP has decided to contest the elections alone and already announced its candidates for 302 of the 403 assembly seats.

Faced with heavy-lifters like the ruling BJP and SP, Sanjay Singh, the party’s UP in-charge, says AAP has announced good candidates and has left it to the people to choose what brand of politics they would like to choose. Singh further says that UP needs to junk the perception that it votes only on the basis of caste and religion, not on real issues. The AAP, he says, is fighting against this challenge and it is for the people will choose between a government that can deliver upon the promise of social welfare or one that only uses nationalism and religion to spread hatred and divide society. 

Edited excerpts from the interview:  

AAP has named its poll manifesto in Uttar Pradesh as the ‘Arvind Kejriwal Guarantee Patra’. Your party’s biggest leader, Arvind Kejriwal, has been campaigning aggressively in Punjab and Goa, but is missing in UP. Has the party bowed to the challenge posed by BJP and Samajwadi Party? 

It is for the people of Uttar Pradesh to decide whether we are in competition or not. But if there is any party on ground which has played the role of the main opposition party, it is the Aam Aadmi Party. CM Yogi Adityanath has got 21 cases lodged against me, sealed my party office, sent 50 policemen when my wife was at home, got me arrested by 150 cops in Sitapur, my party workers were lathicharged and jailed. There have been several instances in Uttar Pradesh one after the other where Aam Aadmi Party has been the only party which has stood up. 

I exposed the Jal Jeevan Mission scam worth thousands of crores, I exposed the Corona scam, I exposed the land scam in Ram Temple project, I exposed the scam in Kasturba Vidyalaya, exposed the scam in mid-day meal scheme. And in exposing all these scams, Yogi Adityanath ji filed cases against me instead of acting against the scamsters. If you talk about law and order, I was attacked when I went to Hathras, I raised the issue of murder of businessman Indrakant Tripathi, I raised the issue of fake encounter of Prabhat Mishra, raised the issue of Khushi Dubey and several others; Jaiprakash Pal was murdered in Ballia, Arun Valmiki was beaten to death by police. So in all these incidents, AAP was the main voice against the government. 

Secondly, Aam Aadmi Party was the first to start door-to-door campaigning. The impact of our campaign for free electricity up to 300 unit was so big that Yogi Adityanath, who kept on increasing the electricity rates in these five years, reduced the prices from Rs 6/unit to Rs 3/unit just before the elections and Akhilesh Yadav promised to give 300 units of free electricity. This was the pressure of our campaign on the political parties. 

Today, all the parties are cautious when it comes to announcing candidates for the election so that it becomes evident that people of their own caste are prominently placed in the list, this is also the contribution of Aam Aadmi Party which stood against casteism. There is no place for casteism; if you have been elected as the chief minister of 24 crore people, then you are their guardian and leader, then you take care of everyone. Just giving a hollow slogan of ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ will not work. 

We nominated good candidates. Today when other parties release their list of candidates, then discussions are held on how many of them are mafias and goons, but when Aam Aadmi Party announces its list, then it is seen how many of the candidates are doctors, engineers, PhDs and MBAs. So we have given good candidates, good issues, struggled on ground, now all the responsibility cannot be on Sanjay Singh or Aam Aadmi Party, that’s not possible. 

The responsibility from here on is on the people, if they give us their love and blessings, we will win seats because Aam Aadmi Party is the only party which says that it has no vote bank. Those with more banks, emptied all the banks! Those who want 300 units of free electricity can come with us, those who want jobs, unemployment compensation of Rs 5,000, women who want Rs 1,000 per month, farmers who want an adequate price for their produce, those who want to connect on these issues, they should come with us. 

You spoke about a number of crime incidents and one of them was of Khushi Dubey, who was arrested following the encounter of gangster Vikas Dubey. Is it wring to arrest someone if the police find his/her involvement in a crime? 

Of course they must be arrested. But a woman married just three days ago who was not even present at the house — Khushi Dubey, Vikas Dubey’s house help Rekha Agnihotri, her two kids, Amar Dubey’s mother Shanti Dubey, Kshama Dubey – they have kept them in jail for the last 1.5 years, have been charged under Gangster Act. Which gang do these people run? Where have they committed murder or any other crime? From murder to gangster, which charge is left to be imposed on them? 

So this is not right! You take action against criminals. Was there a single FIR against Prabhat Mishra who was killed in fake encounter? A student of Class 12 was killed in a fake encounter. Stop crime, act against criminals, they should be afraid of police, law and order. Eight policemen were martyred, I met the families of each one of them. But this doesn’t mean that you will shoot any random innocent person, kill him. 

But Yogi government claims that it has brought the law and order of the state under control, freed it from ‘gundaraj’ and corruption, taken action against criminals like Mukhtar Ansari and Ateeq Ahmed. What do you have say on this?

What happened to the SIT formed to investigate the Corona issue? Lokayukta notice was issued to the government in the Jal Jeevan Mission scam which I exposed, the government said it is investigating, what happened to that? Another Lokayukta notice was issued in the Ram Mandir scam which I exposed, what happened there? What happened in the corruption by one of the ministers Satish Dwivedi which I exposed? 

Ventilators worth Rs 8 lakh was brought by the government for Rs 22 lakh. We have presented all the documents. During Covid, when people were dying, their bodies were being found at the ghats of the river, they were being fed upon by eagles, crows and dogs, these people were busy making money, doing corruption. And when you confront them on this, they have no answer, they don’t act on it. 

If action was taken against criminals, then tell me why did an incident like Harthras take place? Recently, a similar incident took place in Bulandshahr where a small girl was gangraped and was burnt to death. How did it happen? How can an SSP demand extortion from businessman Indrakant Tripathi and then get him killed? Jaiprakash Pal was shot in front of police, Sanjeet Yadav was kidnapped, police made his sister give Rs 30 lakh to the kidnappers and even after that, he was murdered. How is crime being controlled? 

A three-time MLA from Lakhimpur Nirvendra Mishra was killed, he was a popular MLA. Manish Mishra was beaten to death in chief minister’s home district in a hotel. Daughters of brickfield workers were gangraped in chief minister’s home district. Is this is an example of improving law and order? And our Home Minister was claiming that even a 16-year-old girl can roam at 12 midnight wearing jewellery. Leave them, I am asking Home Minister to roam around wearing jeweller at night without his security, you won’t get to know what happens to him. This is the situation of crime. 

In a state where four farmers and a journalist are mowed down by the vehicle of MoS Home and no action is taken against him, he is sitting in the Parliament making a mockery of the country’s democracy and Constitution, which law and order is Adityanath Ji talking about? 

Aam Aadmi Party fighting elections in several states makes Arvind Kejriwal’s national ambitions evident. UP is considered the most crucial state for a party to establish its national footprint. Don’t you think Arvind Kejriwal should have focussed more on Uttar Pradesh? 

I feel that every party has its own priority and I admit that the priority of each and every worker of Aam Aadmi Party right now is Punjab. Kejriwal Ji is focusing more on Punjab and there is nothing wrong in it. But he addressed the Kisan rally in Meerut, another big rally was held in Lucknow recently, he visited Ayodhya. Let elections in Punjab get over, then he will come Uttar Pradesh as well, and currently he is addressing people virtually through voice messages, IVR, videos. 

Talking about the expansion, we have already proved that by getting 40 lakh votes in Zila Panchayat elections, 83 of our candidates Zila Panchayat members won, Pradhans won, PDC won. So, Aam Aadmi Party’s acceptance in Uttar Pradesh is increasing which is why we are contesting on 400 seats. They were even making fun of us on whether we will find candidates or not. Aam Aadmi Party has announced the maximum number of candidates so far… and good candidates. 

People of UP are ridiculed for voting only on the basis of caste and religion. This perception should be changed by the youth, daughters, mothers, farmers and elders of Uttar Pradesh. Can’t we vote on education, health, employment, development of roads, development of businessmen and industries? Will UP continue to carry this blot of voting on basis of caste and religion? So this is a big challenge and Aam Aadmi Party is fighting this challenge, let’s see to what extent we are able to break it. 

So is this clear that Punjab is AAP’s priority and any other state will be prioritised second?

No! All states are on our priority, but Punjab is right now our first priority, and this is not a hidden fact! 

As you speak about real issues of UP, the electoral history of the state shows that caste arithmetic has always trumped them. Do you think that the party can overcome these factors just by announcing freebies like free electricity or Rs 1,000 per month to women or unemployment compensation of Rs 5,000? 

I am asking who will break this perception. I alone cannot break it. It is the people of Uttar Pradesh who can break it. Is this a medal that people of Uttar Pradesh vote only on the basis of caste and religion? Secondly, if in the name of caste and religion, we elect goons, mafias and thieves to the Parliament and expect them to give us a good government, this is our mistake. People of UP must realise this! A person who spends Rs 20 crore in election will not recite shloka from Ramayana and Aayat from Quran… he will try to make Rs 200 crore, he will indulge in corruption and dishonesty. 

So those who took votes and those who have voted in the name of caste and religious arithmetic, they will have to introspect about what they gained out of it. Will deploying a few DMs and SSPs of their caste benefit the entire caste? 

Adityanath Ji spoke about 80-20! I humble ask him… married women who are wives of teachers… who protest by shaving their heads, were they in 80 or 20? The farmers who sat on the streets for a year, 750 farmers who died, on whom tear gases were fired… are they in 80 or 20? Thousands of dead bodies found on the banks of the river… those rotten dead bodies which were fed by vultures and dogs… were they in 80 or 20? That poor daughter of Hathras who was burnt to death at night, is she in 80 or 20? Prabhat Mishra – a Class 12 student who was killed in a fake encounter – he was in 80 or 20? Indrakant Tripathi who was murdered, was in 80 or 20? Khushi Dubey is in 80 or 20? Manish Gupta is in 80 or 20? Arun Valmiki in in 80 or 20? Those were brutally murdered in Uttar Pradesh… were they in 80 or 20? 

So if they are misleading the people of Uttar Pradesh with these false claims, then people should understand that they have done the maximum damage to Hindus. They came to power in the name of Hindus and now are destroying them the most. Hindus suffered the most due to unemployment… Hindus suffered the most as illiteracy increased… Hindus suffered the most as the condition of hospitals worsened… Hindus suffered the most as inflation rose… so which Hindu Raj are you bringing? You call it hatred towards Muslims and do damage only to Hindus! Come and answer me! 

You are saying… ‘ab palayan nahi hoga’ (no more exodus will happen now). What is this? Is this is a drama company? The country’s prime minister is a Hindu, Home Minister is a Hindu, Defence Minister is a Hindu, Uttar Pradesh chief minister is a Hindu… then how did exodus take place? First resign from your post taking moral responsibility that we were useless, exodus took place despite us being present, only then will someone listen to what you are saying. 

Amit Shah is drinking ‘Mugli Ghutti 555’… keeps on repeating Mughal, Mughal! Mughals have gone! Are you fighting Bahadur Shah Zafar? Or is Narendra Modi Ji Mughal? Who are you fighting? Where are Mughals? They say just anything. Even babies stop drinking ‘Mugli Ghutti’ after 1.5 years, and he (Amit Shah) is still drinking Mugli Ghutti. 

Hatred will never allow India to develop. Unity in diversity is India’s uniqueness. We are that country where Bismillah Khan’s Shehnai echoes in the Sankat Mochan temple, we are a country where Malik Muhammad Jayasi writes Padmavat, we are that country where we read Raskhan to learn about Lord Krishna, we are that country where Mohammed Rafi sings: “Sukh ke sab sathi, dukh mein na koi, mere Ram tera naam ek saacha, Dooja na koi”. Bharatiya Janata Party wants to erase our identity, this beauty of ours. And those who are supporting them, they are somewhere supporting this politics of hatred. 

You say that elections should not be fought in the name to caste and religion. Do you think giving freebies can address the real issues of the state? 

There are two types of economies – one economy says that you give the money in banks to a few capitalists. Whose money is there in the banks? It’s yours, of farmers, labourers, workers, small businessmen, of the common man of this country, of which Rs 10.5 lakh crore was given away to a few capitalists, they took the money and fled the country. Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi, Nitin Sandesara… they all took the money and fled the country. 

The second economy is you use that money to give free electricity, free water, free education, free healthcare to the common man. His savings will increase his purchasing power and he will contribute to the market’s economy. But what if he is not able to save? If the youth doesn’t have money to use his mobile phone, to fill (exam) forms, to eat, then what will he do? He will commit crime, violence will increase in the society. So, it is important for a balanced society. It should not be defamed as ‘freebies’, instead the basic necessities should either be given free or at minimum rates, because our governments are social welfare organisations, they are not meant to make money; that’s a different thing that leaders have done business in the name of politics, but they are not made for it. And hence, it is necessary that the basic needs are provided at minimum prices or for free, if possible. 

On one hand, your party accuses the BJP of polarising society and using patriotism for electoral gains and on the other hand, AAP itself started its electoral campaign in UP with Ayodhya visit and Tiranga Yatra. What was the need to take the same road? 

Should religion be left at hands of goons, unrighteous people and those who steal the contribution in the name of Ram Mandir? Do you want to say that they have the right top visit temple, and not Kejriwal? If we arrange Tirtha Yatra, then is it a crime? Adityanath Ji is not the gatekeeper of Ram Temple! He questions why we went to the temple. Does he know which temples do I visit… when did I go to Balaji, Ujjain Mahakal, Shirdi, Jagannath Puri or Ayodhya Ram Mandir? 

Secondly, we follow Hindu religion so we work with the belief in verse from Ramcharit Manas which says: “Sab nar karahin paraspar preeti (to spread love and harmony)”. And we go out with Tiranga in our hands, we do not hit children in parks on Valentine’s Day. What we say is “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, aapas mein sab bhai bhai”. All Indians should raise this slogan with Tiranga in their hands. Everyone should raise the slogan for the safety of India’s youth, farmers, mothers and sisters. BJP has no copyright on religion and patriotism because neither they are patriotic, not they follow religion, they only spread violence, hatred and divide the society in the name of religion and nationalism. Wo kehte hain “maaro, kaato, logon ko barbad karo (kill, destroy people)” and we say “beghar bedar logon ko aabaad karo (settle the homeless)”. 

When Aam Aadmi Party began its UP campaign with temple visit and Tiranga Yatra, then where was need that the party had to approach Samajwadi Party for an alliance? 

See, whatever talks happened with Samajwadi Party, I had said back then also that if talks advance in the direction of alliance then we will let you know. Since alliance talks did not move forward, so there is no use discussing about it. We are contesting on 403 seats, on our issues and working dedicatedly towards it. 

You are the party in-charge of Uttar Pradesh. Why are you not contesting the election? 

I could have contested the elections, but since there was so much work to do as we are fighting the UP Assembly polls for the first time… so there is a lot of work to do, and I am busy from dusk to dawn. This is why I decided that I’ll campaign for the party this time. 

But since the party announced its CM faces in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa, everyone thought that a CM face would be announced for UP too. In fact, many thought that you might be party’s CM face in the state. Is it because you are afraid of the party facing a defeat in these elections?

I don’t work like ‘shekhchillli’ and neither do I live in any sort of misunderstanding. I am working on the ground. Let people of Uttar Pradesh announce their verdict. Whether there will be a CM face or not in the state is not a big issue. 

How many seats do you expect the party to win in these elections?

I repeat myself that we have left this decision on the people of Uttar Pradesh we are contesting on all seats, we have given good candidates and good issues. If people choose bad people, Uttar Pradesh will be in the hands of bad people for the next five years and if they choose good people, sweep aside evil politics then we will definitely provide a good government. 

Aam Aadmi Party has been contesting all elections keeping the Delhi model of governance at the forefront. Do you think your party can address the real issues of UP with it? 

Comfortably! Because Delhi’s budget is Rs 60,000 crore and we did everything we promised. UP’s budget is Rs 5,80,000 crore, we will do everything we have promised. We have promised free electricity, it can be provided at an expense of Rs 19,000 crore; we have promised Rs 5,000 unemployment compensation, it can be given in Rs 20,000 crore; we have promised free bus ride for women… we can do everything. UP’s budget is so huge that we can fulfil all the dreams which we promised in Delhi, we can fulfil them in UP as well.

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