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.