NEW DELHI: Union Minister Manoj Sinha on Tuesday conceded that the alliance of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has added strength to the opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh, adding that the BJP will have to devise a "strategy" to defeat them.
Sinha, who is Minister of State for Railways, also claimed that the Union government has focused on infrastructure development through rail, road, waterways and other means in Uttar Pradesh, with a special focus on the Poorvanchal area.
Sinha, who had kept a studied silence over the party's defeat in the Uttar Pradesh bypolls, said: "In elections, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. We lost in Gorakhpur and Phulpur but now we will do our best to convert these defeats into victory next time."
Both seats were won by the SP as the BSP had extended its support to the candidates fielded by the Akhilesh Yadav-led party.
"Naturally, the alliance has added strength to SP and BSP. We will have to chalk out our strategy to defeat them despite their alliance," Sinha told IANS.
The Minister, who hails from Uttar Pradesh and was also among the front-runners for the post of Chief Minister after the Bharatiya Janata Party's massive victory in the 2017 assembly polls, said such "divisive forces" can only be defeated through development.
"The only way to defeat them is development... Be it growing beyond casteism or stopping such forces, development is the only way," he said.
Asked whether the BJP would succeed in defeating the SP-BSP alliance in 2019 on a development plank, Sinha replied: "During 2019 polls, Narendra Modi will be our prime ministerial candidate. The question is whom the opposition will pit against Modiji. The scenario will change. We will ask them, 'Who is your face?'"
Sinha, who returned from Varanasi after inspecting the railway projects launched in eastern Uttar Pradesh, claimed that after three years the entire region would get transformed.
"Connectivity is the most important aspect and a requirement for development of any region, and our government has paid special attention to this," he said.
The Minister claimed that not even a single section of eastern Uttar Pradesh has been ignored, where doubling and electrification of railway lines has not been done.
"All ongoing projects will be completed in the next three years. This will give the country an electrified double-rail section," he said, adding that there is not a single railway station in the region where works related to public facilities are not underway.
He said many of the projects in the region, including doubling and electrification of Allahabad-Chapra via Varanasi and Gazipur rail section and rail-cum-road bridge on the river Ganga, will be completed before the stipulated time.
Asked whether the government's focus is on Poorvanchal because of its political importance, the Minister said the Modi government does not push development works keeping in mind the political importance of any region.
"Development is our policy. Country will move ahead if there is delivery on development. We are working hard for it.
"I am talking about Poorvanchal area, but that doesn't mean that development works are not going on in other parts of the country. In other regions, too, the government is working hard to implement projects," Sinha said.
The Minister also spoke about various road and waterway projects being taken up by the ministries concerned.
"The work on NH-29 will be completed by December. The pace of construction works on Banaras ring road and Banaras-Babatpur elevated road are in full swing. So is the case in four-to-six laning of various road projects," he said.
Sinha, who is also Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Telecom, said in Uttar Pradesh itself, 50 per cent of gram panchayats have been connected through high-speed internet.
He also said that work on pilot basis to introduce 5G connectivity in villages is also in progress.
Sinha said that such an experiment is going on in Maharajganj village of Uttar Pradesh where people watch movies through internet.
"We are not going to miss the bus of 5G this time. We will not be lagging in case of 5G like we did during 2G, 3G and 4G," he said, adding that the infrastructure projects take time.
"Hamara kaam jameen par dikh raha hai (Our work is visible on the ground)," he said.