‘SP won’t ally with Cong for LS poll’

A socialist by nature and actions, Rajendra Choudhury, a known face in state politics, has always been in the limelight, regardless of whether the SP is in power in the state or not.

‘SP won’t ally with Cong for LS poll’

Rajendra Choudhury (SNS)

Having suffered reverses in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the 2017 Assembly elections, and the 2022 municipal elections, the Samajwadi Party (SP) is making a valiant attempt to regain its foothold in Uttar Pradesh and mount a formidable challenge to the BJP.

A socialist by nature and actions, Rajendra Choudhury, a known face in state politics, has always been in the limelight, regardless of whether the SP is in power in the state or not, and is considered the shadow of party president Akhilesh Yadav.

In an interview with Manoj Bhadra, Choudhury, 71, says that the SP has geared up for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the party president is doing everything possible to rejuvenate the youths and the people ”frustrated” with the BJP government.



Q: After successive defeats in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, what strategy has been chalked out by the SP to counter BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls?

A: After the pandemic and now in the era of global economic crisis, the entire country, including Uttar Pradesh, is grappling with several problems. Youth are not getting jobs and those who are working face the threat of retrenchment. GST and inflation have added to the woes of the people. In these circumstances, the SP has a good chance to leap forward and counter the BJP. BJP’s slogan of ”Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” has turned out to be a big failure, as the minorities, dalits and the backward are feeling cheated by the ruling party.

Law and order is a big issue in UP. Except for some actions against big mafias, the government has failed to control crime against women, girls and the oppressed sections. The crime rate has gone up, but the government figures show that everything is under control.

Q: Do you think your strategy will work, given the BJP’s strength in the state?

A: We have commenced programmes to train our cadre and these programmes will reach every district in the coming days. We held such a programme in Lakimpur Kheri on June 4- 5 and now the next one will be held at the religious town of Naimasharan in Sitapur district on June 9-10. The party president himself presided over these training camps and even had a night stay there. In these camps, the party is directly connecting with the cadre and even getting first-hand information about booth management committees and other preparations to be made for the Lok Sabha polls.

In these training camps, leaders will expose the failures of the BJP governments and inform the cadre how they must publicise these failures.

We have also started selecting candidates for the Lok Sabha polls and for this, we have adopted the ideology of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, who had said that people should be consulted before selecting a candidate. Party president Akhilesh Yadav is meeting workers and leaders from every district on a day-to-day basis to seek their response on the names of probable candidates.

Q: The SP won its last elections in 2012 without any alliance. But later, in all the elections the party went for a prepoll alliance and suffered humiliating defeats. Will the SP go for alliances in the 2024 Lok Sabha poll?

A: The SP has learnt a lesson in the past over its failed pre-poll alliances and now I am sure that no such alliances are on the cards for the party. Though our party president is attending all the meetings on the unity of the Opposition and we will also attend the proposed meeting in Patna, the SP this time will not compromise with its own strength and except for the parties which were in an alliance in the 2022 Assembly polls, no new political outfit could be included in the alliance.

I can also bet that Congress will not be in our alliance and the SP will contest the 2024 polls only in alliance with the RLD. In the 2017 Assembly polls, the SP, despite being the ruling party, had an alliance with Congress and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls it joined hands with the BSP of Mayawati.

Q: Like Nitish Kumar in Bihar, the SP too is demanding a caste census in UP. What is the need for this census? Is it not just a political gimmick?

A: There is a huge disparity in society due to the lack of a fresh caste census despite the increasing population. This has also led to an unbalanced reservation quota. It is the caste census that will remove such discrepancies. It is the duty of the BJP government to go for the caste census to fulfil its promise. The SP will continue to seek peoples’ support for a caste census which has already received wide support in every corner of the state.

Q: The NDA government recently completed 9 years in office while the Yogi Adityanath government in UP completed 6 years. How do you assess the performance of the two governments?

A: Both governments have been total failures and we think in the 2024 elections, people will give them negative marks. The NDA government at the Centre has failed in every field and people are the worst sufferers. As regards the Yogi government, in the 2022 elections, they had promised several sops, including free LPG and bus rides for women. But till date, nothing has been implemented.

Q: Will the proposed grand alliance of the Opposition parties in the country have an impact on the SP as may be asked to consider a pre-poll alliance with parties like Congress and others?

A:We are clear about our approach for the 2024 LS polls. The SP is the only party that can defeat the BJP in UP and the Opposition knows it very well. In the coming meeting of Opposition leaders, the SP will make its stand clear and there would be no compromise on it. In the just concluded Legislative Council byelections, Congress refrained from voting even when SP candidates were fighting against all odds. It shows the party’s arrogance.