Abu Azmi nearly does a Pawar, tells north Indians to vote in city, ‘help’ in UP

Akhilesh Yadav quickly adds that they can’t vote twice since polls in Mumbai and UP are on the same day.

| Mumbai | Updated: April 22, 2014 3:40 am
ak-main Akhilesh Yadav, Abu Azmi and son Farhan at a public meeting at Saki Naka Monday. (Pradip Das)

Weeks after NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s “vote twice” statement caused a stir, Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA and president of the party’s Maharashtra unit, Abu Asim Azmi, urged the north Indian voters in Mumbai to vote for the SP candidate on April 24 and then help the party win in Uttar Pradesh.

Speaking at the public rally Saki Naka in the presence of SP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Azmi said, “The BJP is trying to challenge us in UP despite being reduced to a handful of seats in the Assembly. I urge all north Indians in Mumbai to vote for the SP candidate here on April 24 and then take a train back to UP on the same evening and help the party win from UP too.”

Yadav, however, attempted damage control during his speech soon after. “The BJP has fielded their prime ministerial candidate from Varanasi. An important phase of elections in UP will take place on April 24, the same day when Mumbai goes to polls. You cannot vote twice, but I urge all of you to support us in UP too and help the party win,” he said.

The SP has fielded three candidates from Mumbai and one from Kalyan.

Yadav was in Mumbai to campaign for SP candidate from Mumbai North Central constituency Farhan Azmi (Abu Azmi’s son), who is taking on Congress’s sitting MP Priya Dutt and BJP’s Poonam Mahajan from here.

Yadav, while criticising BJP and its “communal” agenda, said the inefficiency and inability of the Congress to govern the country had directly resulted in the rise of BJP in the country. “It is Congress’s fault that the BJP has become big in India. It is Congress’s inability to control price rise and deliver good governance that has helped the BJP rise in importance. Samajwadi Party is the only party that can stop the BJP now,” he said.

Local leaders reiterated that while Congress was labelling SP as a spoiler that is trying to help the BJP by splitting the votes of Congress, the latter had in fact failed to raise the issues of north Indians in Mumbai. “Congress has only used us here. MP Priya Dutt never raised issues of north Indians or Muslims of Mumbai in the Parliament,” Azmi said. Leaders also spoke of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as the only credible prime ministerial candidate against Modi.

Yadav said that the 80 Lok Sabha seats of UP would determine who forms the government at Centre. He also criticised BJP for its intense marketing and campaigning. “The Gujarat model is nothing but marketing. No party can currently beat the BJP when it comes to campaigning and advertising. It is the most cunning party,” he said.

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  1. H
    H J
    Apr 22, 2014 at 8:36 am
    I believe that the Election Commission (EC) has done a grave disservice to India by stretching the election to a period of almost 6 weeks. It is important in an election to catch the mood of the people at a given point of time. This extended polling period defeats that objective. Secondly, the possibility of dual voting cannot be ruled out looking at the seniority of the leaders who are proposing the same, shamelessly. One day before the actual voting, all campaigning is supposed to stop to give the electorate time to reflect on the choices. In a multi-phased election, this is not possible because the scene of campaigning shifts to a different location and visual media brings it to your home everyday. The greatest threat is that this long election period reduces national issues into state and local issues. A national election cannot be overshadowed by state or area issues. Unfortunately, the EC is doing exactly the same by having this comfortable extended time frame.