Setting the tone for his party’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh which goes to assembly polls next year, BJP president Amit Shah launched a frontal attack on rivals Saturday, saying the SP, if it returns to power, “will work for only a particular caste” and the BSP “will work for only its own development and not of any caste”.
His party on the defensive following Dalit protests over the Una flogging incident, Shah also visited the Malihabad home of Kaushal Kishore, BJP MP from Mohanlalganj, who had organised a lunch to which Dalits had been invited. Kishore accused BJP opponents of carrying out atrocities on Dalits and blaming the BJP to malign its image.
Within hours of Shah attending the Dalit lunch, BSP leader Mayawati hit back, calling it a “political drama which Congress leaders have also done in the past” by eating at houses of Dalits.
Only having lunch at houses of Dalits, she said, will not do them any good. “It is the outcome of this sort of drama that the Dalits are still becoming victims of terror and atrocities even after 70 years of Independence,” the BSP chief said in a statement.
Mayawati said the UP assembly elections have turned from “a challenge” into “a question of life and death” for the BJP and the Modi government and “they know that Dalits are united against the BJP for its anti-Dalit and casteist policies”.
Earlier, addressing a gathering at the Kakori Shaheed Smarak on the outskirts of Lucknow, Shah said UP must complete its “unfinished work” by voting for the BJP as it did to “ensure absolute majority for the Modi government and absolute majority for a BJP government at the Centre”.
He also attacked the Congress saying “there has been no development in the country because only one family held power for 60 of the 70 years since Independence”.
He had a swipe at the main rivals of the BJP in the state: “Can Uttar Pradesh develop under the rule of SP or BSP? Can it get 24-hour power supply? Can it stop incidents like Bulandshahr and Mathura? Can there be employment for youth? Can there be an ambulance in every village? Can big industries come here? Can water reach every field? Can farmers be compensated in times of crisis? Can corruption go? Can goondaraj come to an end?”
He alleged that the SP government was creating hurdles in implementation of central schemes like Ujjwala Yojana, farmers crop insurance scheme, development of houses for poor. He said the UP government did not provide land for AIIMS, so the Centre decided to develop the project on its own land.
He was in Kakori to attend a BJP programme called ‘Azadi ke 70 varsh: Zara yaad karo qurbani’, part of the Tiranga Yatra. Paying tributes to revolutionaries behind the Kakori Conspiracy, Shah said though he did not wish to speak on political issues, he could not help remind Uttar Pradesh of what had befallen the state.
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He said state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya had asked him to get the Kakori memorial developed as a place of tourism. “I assure you that I will convey this to the PM so that this memorial is developed as a major tourist attraction which will be a source of inspiration for the youth.”
He said BJP leaders and workers, as part of the Tiranga Yatra, will visit every tehsil and district across the country with the Tricolour to offer tributes to freedom fighters for their sacrifice.
Mayawati, in her statement, said the BJP was resorting to “various kind of dramas” to “mislead” Dalits in the state. She said this also included the Dhamma Chetna Yatra — she called it a BJP “sponsored yatra” — which was stopped after people protested “politicisation of Buddhist religion”.
She said Shah’s statement that UP cannot develop without a BJP government is “very dispiriting” and people of UP who elected the maximum number of BJP MPs feel “cheated”.
“Are non-BJP ruled states not developing? Or are BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh not lagging behind in eradicating unemployment, malnutrition, poverty as well as public welfare?” she asked.