SAMAJWADI PARTY president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday extended his party’s full support to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, “a secular leader”, who is needed in the country to “fight the Centre’s politics of polarisation”.
On his maiden visit to the West Bengal, the former Uttar Pradesh CM said: “We will give full support to Didi without any hesitation. Whether our own party grows or not, we will lend full support to her. India is in need of such secular leaders to fight the Centre’s polarisation politics. In districts where we have a presence, we will support her.’’
Akhilesh was addressing SP workers at the party’s eighth state conference at the Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata. Accompanied by senior SP leader Azam Khan and party Rajya Sabha MP Kiranmoy Nanda, Akhikesh met Mamata at her Kalighat residence later in the evening for a “courtesy call”.
Taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Akhilesh said demonetisation has hurt the country irreparably. “On December 2, a mother in UP went to exchange money in a bank. But the line was so long that she gave birth to a baby while waiting. The baby was named Khajanchi (treasurer). I was to meet her today. But because of my visit I had to cancel… I will meet her tomorrow. Did the baby or her mother benefit from demonetisation? Where is the Rs 15 lakh in her bank account that the Centre had promised? She is subsisting on the Rs 2-lakh compensation that the SP has given to victims of demonetisation.”
“The demonetisation issue is over, the money has come back (to government’s coffers). What has changed in this last one year? Where is development? The decision was taken only to win the UP elections,” he claimed.
On the Centre’s decision to shut down illegal slaughterhouses in UP, Akhilesh said: “…Now, the government says that it never contended to shut down slaughterhouses. This government… and BJP… lies with extreme confidence, so much so that even we start believing them.”
“You have a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore hanging in this hall. This is the kind of nationalism we want to follow. Who is the BJP to decide what nationalism is and who the nationalists are? They need to study Tagore’s works and learn what India’s nationalism is all about. If you don’t want to listen to us that’s okay, but at least listen to your good friends in America who you revere… even (former US president Barrack) Obama has said that there should be no divisiveness in India. Demonetisation, GST, Digital India, Make in India — these have all betrayed the poor…,” he added.
Accusing the BJP of misusing EVMs in UP civic polls, results of which were declared on Friday, Akhilesh alleged that the ruling party had fared better in areas where EVMs were used instead of ballot papers for casting votes. “In areas where ballot papers were used, BJP had got 15 per cent of votes. In areas where EVMs were used, they got 46 per cent of the votes. They have not managed to garner similar support (as in the case of Lok Sabha elections) in municipality or panchayat polls,” he claimed, adding that he will visit Gujarat next.
Taking on the BJP, Azam Khan said: “I don’t know what BJP leaders will call me. They love people like me. They ask for our heads every day, but only cowards ask for heads. If we (Muslims) have to cut our heads off, then so do secular Indians… We will fight. Only those who fight can stay alive — as did Subhash Chandra Bose… When there were elections in the Congress between Bapu and Bose, Bose won. I am not denigrating Bapu, he is the one who got us freedom. It is because of Bapu’s promise to us that we are here, otherwise there would be no Muslims in India.”
“The value of humans has become so cheap that our bellies will be cut open to check what kind of meat we eat… You (people of Bengal) have to explain to the RSS, because they are knocking on your door as well… that this will not be tolerated. You need to throw them out. They will ruin Bengal. And only secularism can save Bengal and India,” he added.
“Everyday they tell us — go to Pakistan. They call us traitors… are we traitors? Are we not Indians? Where will we go and for whom? And why? And if you really feel that we can no longer live here, then okay, let’s sit down and talk about it. But stop killing innocents,” said Khan.
“Only Bengal and Bihar are keeping the polarising politics at bay and you must continue to do so,” he added.