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Interview With Dr PL Punia

Interview With Dr PL Punia

Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to Rajya Sabha MP,  Dr P L Punia, senior Congress leader and (Former Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes),   to know his views on Uttar Pradesh’s new Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. His firebrand version of Hindutva played a key role in getting him where he is today.

According to Punia, every decision becomes the basis of judgement in case of a Chief Minister but added that it is too early to comment on Yogi as he is just a few days into his governance. Punia confirmed that there is an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. The fear created by some of Yogi’s decisions, can adversely affect the secular fabric of Indian Constitution.

IC: What are your comments on Yogi Adityanath’s latest decisions?

Dr P L Punia: It is too early to comment on his performance. You can’t make judgement on the basis of one week or ten days of his performance. He has specifically told his party MLAs and senior officials not to make distinction on the basis of any caste or religion. He has also told them not to utter anything which could create fear psychosis among the people of Uttar Pradesh. He has sought details of their income and asked them to work for long hours and redress grievances of people. These are not decisions. We will see what will be his proposed welfare policies and strategies for development of the state.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised in one of his election meeting that they will decide about loan waiver for farmers. We will wait and watch.  One can review his performance once he starts working.

IC: The ban on illegal slaughter houses has evoked strong reactions from the minority community? Is it wrong to take action against illegal slaughter houses?

What is the definition of illegal slaughter house? A shop selling non-veg cannot be called a slaughter house or a small vendor selling meat can’t be held responsible for selling meat illegally. Those having a licence from the municipal corporation have been forcefully shut in the name of illegal activity. Municipal body employees have used force to down shutter of small time shop keepers selling meat. I don’t think that CM had ordered for closure of illegal slaughter houses with this very intention. People have become jobless.

Due to shortage of meat, Muslim weddings are being postponed. At some places, guests were served vegetarian food in Muslim weddings. After the crackdown on slaughter houses, the atmosphere is vitiated.

IC: The Supreme Court on Friday (March 31) refused for early hearing to the Ram-Janambhoomi Babri Masjid case but the Apex Court on March 21 had suggested that fresh attempts must be made by all parties to end the RamJanambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute through a negotiated settlement. That suggestion has boosted the morale of BJP and supporters of Ram temple who have started speaking about the construction of ram temple at the site. Your comments.

It will be wrong to see a link between Adityanth taking over as CM and the Supreme Court’s March 21 suggestion. More so, the SC suggestion came during hearing of an appeal pending for years on the matter. That is the best alternative. We welcome the SC suggestion for settlement of the issue through a dialogue.

IC: With Adityanath’s appointment, do you think vigilantism (anti-Romeo) has been upgraded into state policy?

The anti-Romeo drive is being misused to create terror among the youngsters. The Constitution cannot stop a boy and a girl going together.

IC: Adityanath’s ascent has prompted question about India’s secular status. Do you fear that efforts are being made to turn secular India into a Hindu state?

There is no such fear among the people. Neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor Adityanath has ever stated it. These governments at centre and in states have been elected through democratic means under the Constitution. The Constitution does not talk of any religion specific state. It talks about secular India. People have full faith in the Constitution and its provisions. Moreover, people will make their judgement only after he (UP CM) has taken major decisions.

IC: In UP, opposition parties are less in number. How will you take on the government against any controversial decision?

Electoral victory or strength in Legislative assembly of the ruling party is not an indication of strength of the opposition. In case of any controversial decision, opposition parties will certainly raise their voice for people of the state.

(Published on 03rd April 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 14)#