'I was feeling so suffocated under Yogiji's rule.'
Roshan Lal Verma, a three-time Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Uttar Pradesh, quit the BJP to quit join the Samajwadi Party.
In the first of a two-part interview with Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com, Verma, who defeated then Congress candidate Jitin Prasada from Tilhar in the 2017 assembly election as a BJP candidate (in the 2007 and 2012 elections, he won as a BSP candidate from Nigoh and Tilhar in Shahajahanpur district) blames UP Finance Minister Suresh Khanna for trying to suppress him and the UP chief minister for neglecting his complaints against Khanna and his cabal.
Why did you quit the BJP?
The Yogi Adityanath government has helped perpetrate injustices against the Dalits, the oppressed and people belonging to other backward classes and minorities.
The rightful reservations meant for scheduled castes and OBCs in recruitment of 69,000 assistant teachers as per the UP government's reservation policy was taken away from them.
The Yogi government also failed to provide employment to lakhs of educated youth in the state and instead encouraged the youth from UP to migrate to other states in search of jobs.
Medium and small enterprises and traders were not given adequate support during peak corona period and many of them just folded up for lack of government support.
Acting like a dictator, not listening to grievances of common masses has been the hallmark of this government since it came to power in 2017.
Why did you keep quiet for the last five years when you were part of the BJP?
I regularly kept lodging complaints and seeking their redressal, but Suresh Khanna (the state finance minister and Shahajahanpur MLA), kept repressing our complaints related to the issues faced by the poor, SCs and OBCs.
I protested against this high-handedness with the honourable chief minister Yogi Adityanathji, state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh, Sunil Bansal (BJP leader from Rajasthan who is state general secretary, organisation, for UP), but everyone turned a deaf ear to my complaints.
What has been the UP CM's attitude towards reservations for SCs, OBCs and the problems faced by the poor in the state?
Agar Yogiji ka ravaiyya theek hota toh jo shikshakon ki bharti hui hai anya vargon se usme peechdon ke saath anyay na hota (Had Yogiji's attitude towards the Dalits and OBCs been fair, then there would have been no injustice against them in the recruitment of assistant teachers in UP).
Take the case of gau raksha (cow protection). Yogiji gyaan baant-te hai ki gau hamari mata hai (Yogiji keeps sermonising that the cow is our mother). Come to Uttar Pradesh and see how miserable the condition of cows in the state is.
The poor animals keep loitering without food and water in the streets during winter. Is there any shortage of funds with you for gau mata?
You should have built gaushalas (shelters) for the gau mata, and provided for their shelter, food and good health. Did you make any provision for this even?
The cows wandering in farms have destroyed crops of hundreds of farmers and led to financial hardships.
If you really worshipped cows, had any respect for them, then you would have definitely made provisions for their proper health and upkeep. UP now knows how much Yogiji love gau mata.
I was feeling so suffocated under Yogiji's rule.
What other things led to your suffocation in the BJP?
Bureaucrats and sarkari babus have hijacked the Yogi government.
Governments are elected by the people, but the will of the people is diverted for good of a few elite by these sarkari babus.
The poor are conveniently forgotten after elections are won. Their voices and issues don't matter much after you sit on raj gaddi (the seat of power).
Suni kahan janata ki Yogi Sarkar ne? (The Yogi government didn't heed issues of the masses?)
This government, I repeat, is run by a few chosen bureaucrats and officers. These officers have been doing what suits the interests of a few people in the government and its supporters.
Are these officers manipulating Yogi Adityanath? Can't the UP CM over-rule these bureaucrats?
Only their writ runs large. They have been doing whatever they think is in the interest of their masters and string pullers.
These people have completely taken over the reins of the Yogi government. Yogiji has been blindly accepting the decisions made by these people.
But Yogi Adityanath's image is that of a strong leader.
If you remember, these people were responsible for the arrest of Nand Kishor Gurjar (the BJP MLA from Loni). He was arrested by an inspector despite being an MLA from the ruling party.
More than 200 BJP MLAs stood in support of Gurjarji, but the Yogi government did not take any action the people behind his arrest.
Why did your suffocation of five years make you resign and join the SP a month before the UP assembly elections? Isn't this opportunism?
Tell me one thing: Given my position in the party, what else could I have done?
I kept raising my voice against injustices meted out to the Dalits, the OBCs and poor of the state, but Suresh Khanna always obstructed my efforts and good work.
I did my best to raise these concerns with the chief minister, UP BJP president (Swatantra Dev Singh), but none were interested in listening to someone who was giving air to the causes of the oppressed and backward people.