Reaching out to Muslims in a rally at Sikandrabad in Gautam Budh Nagar constituency on Saturday, BSP chief Mayawati said Muslims in UP “have to vote for BSP at the state and the Centre to prevent Narendra Modi from becoming the PM”. Voting for Congress or SP “will mean dividing your vote which will benefit the BJP and make Modi the PM”, she added.
Many in the crowd who had come from nearby villages, including Mayawati’s native village of Badalpur, to hear “their leader” said they were disappointed with the “focus on Muslims”.
Addressing a crowd of at least 40,000 people, mostly men and few Muslims, Mayawati urged people, “especially Muslims, to forget any differences you might have with our chosen candidates, and please think that you are voting for Behenji”.
The BSP has fielded Satish Awana from Gautam Budhh Nagar and Pradeep Jatav from Bulandshahar, the two constituencies from where the majority of the crowd had come. “My Muslim brothers might have some small gile shikwe (complaints) with our candidates, but I request you to forget them. I am from Badalpur which earlier fell in Bulandshahar constituency, and is now included in Gautam Budhh Nagar. So I am from these two constituencies in the truest sense. Please think you are voting for me,” Mayawati said.
Recalling the Muzaffarnagar riots, “where Muslims suffered the most”, Mayawati said,”Jinke khud ki sarkar rehte hue itna bada Godhra kand ho gaya, agar yeh galti se bhi PM ban jate hain toh desh kabhi bhi sampradayik dangon ka shikar hokar tabah ho sakta hai. (A man under whose government the Godhra riots happened, if he becomes PM even by mistake, then the country can become a victim of communal riots any time and be destroyed).”
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She added, “I request you not to fall prey to the propaganda of the Congress and SP. Haven’t you seen Godhra and Muzaffarnagar? If your votes get divided between Congress and SP, both parties will do nothing for you, and the BJP will benefit. And if the BJP benefits, you will suffer the most. It is up to the Muslims of UP to stop BJP from forming a government in the state and country by voting for the BSP.”
Mayawati hit out at the Akhilesh Yadav government, saying not only had they watched the riots happen but that developmental work had also suffered after riots.
Taking a dig at BJP MLAs accused of the riots, Mayawati said, “We have always been with the Dalits and other backward castes, if you Muslims give us your unified support, then let alone forming a government, they will also forfeit their deposit.”
On the Congress’s candidate from Gautam Budhh Nagar joining the BJP, she said it was evidence that “the Congress is finished in UP”.
According to a BSP leader from Sikandrabad, about 150 buses had brought the crowd from surrounding villages. Many who had traveled since early morning to hear the BSP leader — who came about three hours after the scheduled time — said they were disappointed with the “emphasis on Muslims”.
“Unlike her past rallies where she spoke on the problems of unemployment and poverty faced by the backward castes, this time she went on and on about the riots,” said 52-year-old Kulvati Devi from Bulandshahar.
Kulendra Jatav, 22, from Parsaul village, said, “She is the tallest Dalit leader in the country, if she also starts chasing Muslims like the SP, where will we go?” he said.
The few Muslims in the crowd said they were undecided about their choice. “I heard Akhilesh speak here last week, and now Mayawati. Nobody speaks about education and jobs,” said 43-year-old Mohammad Altaf.