Samajwadi Party workers hit the streets at various parts of the state, including Lucknow and Prayagraj, Tuesday after reports of party chief Akhilesh Yadav being restrained from boardng a flight from Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport to Prayagraj to attend a students’ union function at the Allahabad University came out in west UP.
Police used mild force in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar to disperse a group of Samajwadi Party supporters who burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In Meerut, party workers marched towards the DM’s office where they burnt effigies in protest when police resorted to mild lathicharge, leaving some of them with minor injuries.
“The Yogi government is showing dictatorial attitude due to the growing influence of Akhileshji. An attempt is being made by the BJP government in the state to muzzle the collective voice of the opposition but we will give them a befitting reply in the coming Lok Sabha polls,” said Babar Chauhan, an executive committee member of the SP. Badaun MLA Dharmendra Yadav was injured in a lathicharge at Prayagraj.
“Akhilesh was restrained as the government had inputs that his visit to the land of kumbh could lead to unrest there. Akhilesh is being paid back in the same coin as in 2014, as the then CM, he restrained Yogiji ffrom addressing a public meeting in Lucknow,” said Vineet Sharda, state chief of BJP’s trader cell.
In Muzaffarnagar also, police chased away SP workers who tried to burn effigies of PM and CM at party office in Malviya Nagar, while in Saharanpur, they burnt effigies and raised anti-government slogans.
In a letter written to Akhilesh’s personal assistant, District Magistrate of Prayagraj, Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj, and SSP Nitin Tewari, said Akhilesh’s programme should be postponed following a request by the university officials. The letter also said there was a possibility of breakdown of law and order if Akhilesh visits the university.
At a press conference, Akhilesh expressed disappointment over students’ preparations at Allahabad University going waste. “Sarkaar ka mann saaf nahi raha, niyat saaf nahi rahi… The freedom of speech, to speak to people… the freedom to travel in flights, is being curbed by this government. This government is scared of the youth and they will teach them a lesson,” he said.
Ruckus in Assembly
Protests broke out in Allahabad, Jaunpur, Jhansi, Kannauj, Balrampur, Jalaun, Azamgarh and Gorakhpur, among other places, where SP supporters smashed windscreens of vehicles and clashed with the police. Roads were blocked in Gorakhpur.
SP members raised the matter during the Question Hour in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. “The present regime is trying to kill democracy and stop our leader from visiting Allahabad,” party leader Narendra Verma said.
The members also trooped into the Well of the House, prompting Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit to adjourn proceedings for 20 minutes. It was later extended for the entire Question Hour and then for the day. BSP leader Lalji Verma also supported the SP members, saying, “There is an anarchic government in the state which wants to suppress the voice of opposition.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna said, “The district magistrate informed him (Yadav) not to visit Prayagraj as it could create law and order problems.” He alleged SP and BSP members “throttled democracy by not allowing the House to function”. Agitated SP workers gathered outside the assembly complex. SP legislators also sat on dharna outside Raj Bhawan against the “undemocratic behaviour” of the BJP government. They relented when Governor Ram Naik sent a message to them that he would meet their delegation on Wednesday.
Support pours in
New Delhi, Kolkata: Several opposition leaders, including Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and West Be-ngal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the state government action undemocratic. Naidu condemned the “high-handed behaviour of Lucknow authorities” and said, “Another instance of BJP’s intolerance against its political opponents. Really democracy is in danger.”
Condemning the incident, Mamata Banerjee said, “In the opposition-ruled states, (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi attends rallies and speak of democracy. But in the states ruled by the BJP, the opposition is not given any democratic space. I heard that even Jignesh Mevani was stopped from attending a programme at Gujarat. I strongly condemn such incidents.”
Speaking to reporters in Kolkata, she added, “The BJP is misusing each and every central agency and this they are doing in the many states. The Prime Minister is too scared since he knows it very well that the expiry date of his term is over”
Mayawati said in a tweet, “This is anti-democratic and an example of total dictatorship of BJP government. Is the BJP government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh so afraid of the BSP-SP alliance that it is resorting to anti-democratic methods in order to curb our political activities. This is very unfortunate and this undemocratic step will be fought at all levels.”
‘Will stop Yogi’
Bhubaneswar: The Samajwadi Party Odisha unit Tuesday threatened to “oppose” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s proposed visitto the state next week. Terming the Lucknow airport episode as “illegal and undemocratic”, Samajwadi Party Odisha unit president Rabi Behera claimed that the BJP is a “scared of growing popularity” of Akhilesh Yadav and hence they “directed” the police to detain him at the airport.
“This is unconstitutional and dictatorial. Samajwadi Party Odisha unit will oppose Yogi’s Odisha tour,” Behera said in a statement.
(With PTI inputs)