At his maiden rally in Gujarat in Patan district on Monday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav blamed “some people” from the state for creating Muzaffarnagar riots. Hinting at Amit Shah, he said, “Some people from here (Gujarat) came to UP and tried to create riots and insult us. But UP has decided that we will stay united and fight these forces. Varanasi will vote for secular people… and it has already proved this by voting in huge numbers in the first phase.” BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is contesting from Varanasi, besides Vadodara, which goes to polls on May 11.
“Humne Gujarat main sirf shuruat ki hai, hum apna khaata kholne aaye hain (We have just begun in Gujarat and have come to open our account here)”, said Yadav, pitching for a Third Front-led government at the Centre, with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav having a bigger role in it.
“The Third Front is ready in different states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar as these regional parties will win maximum votes. If there is any one party which is running according to a secular outlook, it is SP,” he said. Calling Modi an “RSS-backed PM candidate”, Yadav said that a BJP government at the Centre would spoil India’s relations with its neighbours. Asked about the speculation of the BJP gaining in UP, he told reporters at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad, before heading for Patan, that “it was the SP who had once stopped the BJP’s march in UP and it will happen again”.
According to Yadav, “The BJP had grown because of wrong policies of the Congress. It’s PM candidate is backed by RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. I want to tell you that the people of UP will stop him (Modi) from becoming PM.”
About his father and former Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, he said, “There has been no minister who maintained such good links with India’s neighbours as Netaji (Mulayam). BJP will spoil any relations India may have with her neighbours as they are good in breaking up things. Even they did not spare Gandhiji (Mahatma). Look at the history of organisations like the VHP and the RSS that back the BJP; they are known for disrupting and breaking up things.”
Taking potshots at Modi’s tea vendor roots, he said, “Chai ne hamesha gulaam banaya hai’’ (A cup of tea is the root of all slavery)”. Addressing the 2,000-odd people – consisting of Muslims, Thakore and Rabari communities – he said, “Your CM (Modi) is creating a hype out of making people drink tea. Tell me which political party does something like this? If we look back at India’s history, the Britishers started making slaves out of Indians by first getting us addicted to tea. The result is that today many people cannot begin their day without tea. However, I’m from a place where paan is more symbolic and we have fielded a strong candidate (Kailash Prasad Chaurasia), a paanwala, against him (Modi) in Varanasi.”
Comparing Modi to a guest who keeps coming to UP, Yadav said that he was returning the favour by visiting Gujarat. He said, “Where is the money for your CM’s huge political campaign coming from? This is Gujarat’s money which he is spending on all these campaigns. Rubbishing the Gujarat development model, he said, “BJP ke log chalu hai (BJP leaders are cunning). They made people believe that idols could drink milk. Therefore, people should refrain from them.”
To a question on the Asiatic lions that Gujarat government had given to UP, Yadav said that he had kept the lions in a 300-acre cage. “If Modi was so worried about them, he should have dropped by to see them when he came to Etah,” he said. He also claimed that his government had asked for 10 lions, but got only six.
Mocking Modi’s development claims, he said, “Did Amul come up in Modi’s tenure in the last 10 years? It was envisioned by Varghese Kurien and now Amul is coming to one of the biggest milk markets, which is UP. Let your CM stop Amul from coming to UP if he wants to.”
From employment to the state of education of Muslims and farmers in Gujarat, the youngest CM in the country enlisted several initiatives the SP government has taken in its two-year tenure.”There is incorrect hype that is being propagated by your CM that Gujarat has generated jobs. Gujarat is lagging behind UP in creating jobs as per official government figures. The most sad lot of farmers are the ones in Gujarat, who pay a steep price for electricity and for selling their products. Are the farmers happy here? Do they get free water for farming? In UP, it is free. Your government has given cultivable land to industries whereas you will not find a single such instance in UP. Have any students got laptops or computers here? We have distributed around 15 lakh laptops in two years and done a lot of work for the education of the girl child. Can your CM show any laptop that was distributed here? Even unemployed youth in our state get Rs 1,000 from the government,” he said.
(With inputs from Satish Jha)