Lucknow, Mar 18: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday said that the BJP's defeat in the recent Lok Sabha bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur cannot be seen as a referendum on the policies and programmes of the party's government at the Centre or in Uttar Pradesh.
He, however, added that the BJP had learnt a "lesson" (from the outcome) and said he was confident the party would perform better in future polls, especially the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. I don't see the results as a referendum," he said at a media event in Lucknow.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister said the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party (SP-BSP) combine had not made any dent in the saffron party's vote bank.
"Our vote bank is intact," he said.
Stressing that the SP-BSP understanding was not an alliance but a "political deal", he said everyone knew these two parties had "damaged" the state in the past. During the campaign for the bypolls, the results of which were announced last week, the chief minister had launched a frontal attack on the two parties, referring to them as a "snake and mole".
"Whatever I have said is right, and I still stick to it," Adityanath, who is also a mahant of the Gorakhnath Temple, said, when a media-person asked about his choice of words. The CM also described the rival parties as private limited companies.
"The SP and the BSP are private limited companies, one-man shows and undemocratic, as these are family-based organisations," he said.
To another question, he said Congress president Rahul Gandhi might ride the "elephant" (BSP's election symbol) next time after leaving the "cycle" (SP's election symbol). In the last Assembly elections, the Congress was in an alliance with the SP. Asked what led to the BJP's defeat in Phulpur and its bastion Gorakhpur in the by-elections, he said, "It was due to over-confidence and complacency in candidates, who did not toil hard thinking that they would get the seat on a platter".
Adityanath was also asked if he'd talked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah after the BJP's defeat.
"Yes I did," he replied, but did not divulge details when asked what transpired in the talks.
"Family matters cannot be shared in public," he said. When a media representative pointed out that the entire state was his family, he smiled and said, "Don't forget that there are neighbours too."
Adityanath, who completes one year in office tomorrow as the UP chief minister, claimed he had changed the image of the state from one of anarchy and chaos to that of all-round development and security. Rejecting the charge that the crime graph had increased during his tenure, he said, "This is society, but see the difference between pre and post 2017."
"Our government has accelerated the speed of development, provided power to every nook and corner of the state and ensured security to the people," he said. Asked if he looked forward to his second year in office, with Lok Sabha polls just some months away, he said, "Our days will be superb, and I am confident that we will win all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state."
The hallmark of this regime was the shift from a caste and communal-based agenda to development-oriented politics with a focus on farmers and the youth, he said. "There was no riot during my tenure. All religious festivals are being observed peacefully. We are laying focus on spiritual, heritage and eco-tourism," he said.
To a question on building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, he made it clear that the government was not a party to the dispute and the matter was before the Supreme Court "and things are moving in the right direction". In his first reaction after the party's loss in the by-elections, BJP chief Amit Shah had said yesterday that the UP government was one of the best among the BJP dispensations in states. He had also said the outcome was not a referendum on the party's rule in the state and added that that the BJP had taken the bypoll results seriously and would minutely analyse them.