Battling the ascendance of the BJP in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav signalled a post-poll realignment of forces to stop Narendra Modi’s bid at power. The SP leader termed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi as “a good young leader”, adding that a “weak Congress gets naturally closer to socialists”.
“He is a good young man. He is a good young leader,” Akhilesh Yadav told The Indian Express in response to a query about his assessment of Rahul.
As parties assess and re-assess their poll prospects and strategies for the remaining three phases in Uttar Pradesh, Yadav claimed to have the better of the BJP in the state, which sends 80 members to Lok Sabha.
“The SP will be ahead of the BJP while the BSP and the Congress will be far behind. We are going to be number one party. I do not care who is going to be number two, BJP or BSP,” Yadav said about his assessment of 33 constituencies in the first three phases.
Claims and counter-claims apart, the SP leader’s remark laid bare his party’s thoughts in the wake of the BJP’s perceived rise in the state.
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“Congress sabse kareeb hoti hai samajwadiyon ke jab woh sabse jyada kamjor hoti hai (Congress gets closest to socialists when it is the weakest),” Akhilesh said, asserting that “a secular government will be formed at the Centre”.
“Netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) has always stopped such communal forces. Now they are worried about father-son combine. Netaji had stopped them whether after Babri demolition or after 2002 Gujarat riots. SP will stop them this time as well,” Akhilesh asserted exuding confidence that SP’s cadre and supportbase has rallied against BJP’s ascendance in Uttar Pradesh.
While he refrained from identifying voters by their religious affiliations, Akhilesh suggested that his claim was based on a “heartening” feedback after the polling in first two phases in UP.
“Secular people have voted en-masse together in the first phase. They have consolidated further in second phase … That is heartening,” Akhilesh said. Muslims constitute upward of 30 per cent population in most of first two phases of elections in the state.
The SP leader, whose aggressive campaigning helped socialists get a clear majority in UP assembly in 2012 elections, charged BJP of trying to take an easy route to power in Delhi.
“BJP chalu party hai. In logon ne murtiyon ko doodh pila diya tha. They resorted to religious polarisation to win seats. They have taken an easy route. It is easy to be communal, but secularism is difficult. Secular forces keep communal forces at bay and then pursue development. But, they want to ride to government on communalism and then promise to deliver development,” Akhilesh told The Indian Express after a hectic day of campaining on the eve of the polling in the third phase.
Dismissing the suggestion that Narendra Modi’s electoral management had outpaced rivals across the country, Akhilesh said, “BJP and Modi have used PR companies like a soap to wipe all stains.”