Scoring political points over the trend of labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migrating to work in Gujarat or Maharashtra seems to have become passe.
On Tuesday, election campaigning entered the wild animal kingdom as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav traded barbs over Gujarati lions in UP and hyenas from UP in Gujarat.
The jungle war was started by Modi during his rally in Bareilly when he took a dig at Akhilesh, saying his government was unable to handle the lions given by Gujarat.
“Your chief minister was asking us for lions. We gave them lions. We had hoped they may draw some strength from seeing the lions. But they could not handle the Gujarat lions.
“The lions had to be caged,” Modi said and invited Akhilesh, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and others in the family to visit “Gir forests and see how the lions roam freely” there.
Akhilesh was quick to retort.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event at the Samajwadi Party office, he said: “It is a political courtesy where animals have been exchanged. He gave lions but publicised it. We also had given hyenas and other animals but never spoke about it. I think it is time to tell you about the animals given to Gujarat. I will get their names in Hindi and will tell you later.”
“The lions are presently in cages in the zoo. They will soon be released in a 300 acre lion safari in the Chambal region of Etawah. There will be no cage, but a boundary wall. They would have been shifted there before the polls, but now the model code of conduct is applicable. We will shift them after the elections,” the UP CM added.
Gujarat’s lions were at the centre of the political discourse in November as well.
At a rally in Bahraich then, Modi had said that Akhilesh felt he too could roar like Modi if he got lions from Gujarat. Subsequently, lions were procured for Mulayam’s dream Lion Safari project in the Fisher Forest area of Etawah and have been kept in the Lucknow zoo before being moved.
With PTI inputs