Nine months after he was named an accused in Muzaffarnagar riots, and almost a week after he was made minister of state in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, Sanjeev Baliyan came here in a celebratory convoy.
Swagat Sabhas of close to 50 persons each, including BJP workers and local villagers, stood every 2 km to welcome the MoS, Agriculture and Food Processing, from Delhi to Muzaffarnagar on Friday. He was garlanded and often carried on shoulders to podiums to address the waiting crowds.
At each halt, Baliyan said the same thing: “I promise to be one of you despite being a minister. I’ve been given agriculture and food processing, where I will need your help. I know that this is not my win, but all of yours, and my office and home will always be open to each one of you.”
The announcer at Khatauli raised slogans of “Bharat Mata ki jai, Gau Mata ki jai” to rouse the crowd, while at Mansurpur, “Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi” filled the air. Baliyan was asked repeatedly to join the sloganeering, but he refrained. A source close to the BJP leader admitted, “It has been conveyed to the minister that he should do nothing that will bring up the riots. Therefore, he is avoiding saying anything on the matter and is concentrating on issues of farmers.”
Many in Baliyan’s convoy confessed surprise at his sudden rise. “There were many who were unhappy that he was chosen MP, but he silenced those doubts with the margin of his win (over 4 lakh votes). There should be no doubt though that he won because Hindus came together. A year ago, he was tending sick animals in Kutba. Now he is riding atop a BMW, with an Ambassador with a beacon in tow because he is a minister. He must never forget that.”
After results too, Baliyan had taken out a victory procession in Muzaffarnagar, ignoring prohibitory orders.
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.