Campaigning for his wife who is contesting the civic polls in Barabanki district, a local BJP leader, Ranjeet Kumar Srivastava, warned Muslims to vote for her or face “difficulties” (kasht). Two ministers in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, Dara Singh Chauhan and Ramapati Shastri, were present on stage when Srivastava made the remarks at a public meeting in Nawabganj area on November 13.
A video of his speech is doing the rounds of social media. “Samajwadi ki sarkar nahi hai. Yahan par tum jaa kar ke DM, SP se apna kaam nahi kara sakte ho. Yahan par tumhara koi neta tumhari koi madad nahi kar sakta hai. Sadak, khadanja, naali nagar palika ka kaam hai. Doosri bhi kuch museebatein tumhare upar aa sakti hain. Aaj tumhara koi pairokar BJP ke andar nahi hai. Agar hamare sabhasadon ko tumne bagair bhedbhao ke chunav nahin jitaya… Agar Ranjeet Sahab ki patni ko tumne vote de kar ke chunav nahi jitaya… To yeh doori jo tum banane ja rahe ho, ab agar yeh doori banegi to tumko Samajwadi Party bachane nahi aayegi. BJP ka shashankaal hai. Jo kasht tumko nahi jhelne pade the, woh kasht tumko uthane pad sakte hain,” said Srivastava. (This is not a Samajwadi Party government. You cannot go to the DM, SP to get your work done. None of your leaders can help you. Roads, lanes, drains are the work of the municipal board. You may face some other difficulties as well. Today, you don’t have any advocates inside the BJP. If you do not, without any discrimination, get our corporators elected… If you do not vote for Ranjeet Sahab’s wife and get her elected… then you will distance yourselves and Samajwadi Party won’t come to your rescue. This is the BJP’s reign. You may have to face the difficulties which you did not have to undergo earlier).
“Isliye, main Mussalmano se keh raha hun, vote de dena. Bheekh nahi maang raha hun. Agar vote doge, to sukhi rahoge. Agar vote nahin doge, to jo kasht jheloge uska andaza tumko swatah lag jayega,” he said. (Therefore, I am asking Muslims to cast your vote (for us). I am not begging. If you vote (for us), you will be better off. If you don’t vote (for us), the difficulties will become obvious to you.)
While Srivastava is the outgoing chairperson of Nawabganj Nagar Palika, the BJP has fielded his wife, Shashi, this time since the seat has been reserved for women. While Srivastava was not available for comment, his spokesperson, R P Singh, said: “He wanted to say that Muslims did not support him in 2012, but he still carried out development work in their areas, without any discrimination. He was appealing to them that since the BJP is in power in the state, if a non-BJP candidate wins, the elected chairperson may not be able to get their work done.”
Dara Singh Chauhan, who is also minister in charge of Barabanki district, said: “People should avoid making such remarks. The BJP believes in ‘sabka saath-sabka vikas’. Party leaders associated with local polls will certainly take cognizance of this matter.”
When contacted, BJP’s Barabanki district president Avadhesh Srivasatava said he had not watched the video yet. When told that he was also present at the public meeting, he said: “I did not hear any such remarks, but I will check now.” Barabanki District Magistrate Akhilesh Twari said “the content of the video is being checked.”