Mulayam Singh’s 38-year-old son, Akhilesh Yadav, has been given the task of reinventing the Samajwadi Party. His mass contact programme has been termed a success and he is trying to steer the party away from the old impression that it relies too much on money and muscle power. In a brief chat with Outlook, Akhilesh spells out his party’s priorities. Excerpts:
How do you hope to hit the magic figure of 203 in the 403-seat assembly in 2012?
Well, we lost some 80 seats in 2007 by margins ranging between 500 and 9,000 votes. Therefore, our major concentration is on those seats. We have already declared 392 candidates. Other than 22, whom we may change on account of complaints, the rest are busy telling their constituents what the Samajwadi Party has to offer.
And what’s new in your offer?
Free water and power to the poor farmer, jobs to the youth, ensuring rule of law and, of course, overall good and clean governance.
But your party has always been infamous for goonda raj and patronage to outlaws....
Show me a single goonda in our list of candidates.
It is said that Amar Singh’s exit from the party means shortage of funds....
It is a misnomer that elections can be won with money or muscle power. Today you need to work at the grassroots with sincerity to win an election.
What are your views on FDI in retail?
We are not against FDI in retail. But our insistence would be on ensuring that only our Indian agricultural produce is sold in these outlets. Besides, the retailers must ensure remunerative prices to our farmers, employment to local people and also proper wages to them.
Is the party going to project you as the CM of UP?
No way. Only Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) will be the chief minister.