A DAY after BSP chief Mayawati said she is ready to join hands with other “anti-BJP parties,” Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday indicated that he, too, is ready for such a ‘maha gathbandhan’ (grand alliance) before the 2019 General Election.
Asked about his recent meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati’s statement yesterday, on the sidelines of a programme to launch a membership campaign for the SP, Akhilesh said, “As far as alliance is concerned, I have met several leaders. In the coming days, whatever political alliance will be formed – and in whichever shape it is – Samajwadi people will play a complete role in that.”
Referring to the party’s alliance with the Congress in the Assembly elections, and showing his willingness for a grand alliance against the BJP, the former chief minister said, “We welcome all. We have welcomed (Congress) in the past as well.”
Having gone hammer and tongs at Mayawati’s “moorti-wali sarkaar” in the run-up to the state elections, Akhilesh today appeared to be going soft on the BSP chief. Asked about elevation of Mayawati’s brother Anand Kumar as the BSP’s new national vice-president, effectively making him number two in the party, Akhilesh said it is a welcome move for someone from her family coming forward to take up the responsibility.
While calling it an internal issue for the BSP, Akhilesh said, “Hum sangharsh ke parivarwad ke khilaf nahin hain (we are not against families who take part in struggle).” Reiterating his allegations on tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Akhilesh said that the Election Commission should answer how the machines developed technical snag. Calling an EVM “just a machine, and machines cannot be relied upon completely”, Akhilesh asked who developed the software and installed it in EVMs.
He said he has “100 per cent faith” in ballot papers, and demanded that all elections in future be held in the old system. The former UP CM criticised his successor, Yogi Adityanath, for putting the Samajwadi Pension Scheme on hold and said that the BJP-led government should not stop pension of 55 lakh poor women. He also targeted the government on law and order, saying that people were being burnt alive, among other incidents of crime occurring regularly in UP.
Akhilesh claimed that he does not discriminate on the basis of caste and religion but it was disappointing that in the recent elections he was seen as representing only his caste and religion.
About the inquiry the Adityanath government has ordered into the Gomti riverfront project started by the SP government, Akhilesh said that he is open to the inquiry but questioned whether BJP leaders had seen such pace of development in the state before. He quipped that the Janeshwar Mishra park, where “RSS people hold shakhas”, was also developed by his government.