On his first visit to Muzaffarnagar since the communal riots that hit the district last year, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday sought to defend his government, emphasising that Rs 115 crore had been given as compensation to the riot victims.
He also took the opportunity to attack the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, claiming that he had not given any compensation to those affected in the 2002 riots and failed to prevent the “dishonoring of our sisters”.
Referring to the Gujarat riots, he said, “Jab aapne katl-i-aam kiya tha Mussalmaano ka, mein waha gaya tha, unki haalat bahut kharab thi …(When you killed Muslims, their condition was horrible).”
He said when he went to Gujarat after the riots, a woman came to him to show him her injuries. “She took all her clothes off. I looked away. But she said she could only show her wounds to me and I must look…I can’t even tell you where all the wounds were,” he said. “Where was Modi then, and his 56-inch chest… jisne humari bahu betiyon ko nanga kiya…apamanit kiya (the one who stripped our daughters-in-law and daughters naked…humiliated them)”.
However, while the city buzzed with SP supporters on bikes, not many attended the rally. Party leaders cited the heat and traffic as reasons for the low attendance, but the party’s waning strength, especially among the Muslims, was evident, even as the SP chief sought to woo them. “Muslims make the best clothes, they make Banarasi saris, they make the best jewellery, and yet the BJP abuses them,” he said. “We have always protected you. Whenever there has been strife, it’s the SP which has protected you…don’t let us down, don’t let us be humiliated here (Muzaffarnagar),” he said.
Making his prime ministerial ambitions clear, he said, “After the elections, it will be a third front that will form the government and the biggest party in the third front is the Samajwadi Party. And the neta (leader) to be chosen from within the party will obviously be the one with the most seats in the third front,” he said.
Besides Muslims, the SP chief also sought to woo two specific electorates in Muzaffarnagar — valmikis and farmers. For farmers, he promised “cheap and good seeds, good fertilisers, good quality irrigation” and other facilities. While reaching out to valmikis, he said, “You’re doing the best work. You clean the cities and prevent diseases. We’ll look after you,” he said.