January 18, 2022 10:41:28 am
Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav on Monday promised farmers in Uttar Pradesh minimum support price (MSP) for every crop, free irrigation facilities, arrears for cane growers in 15 days, interest-free loans, and insurance and pension. He also accused Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BJP leaders of violating the model code of conduct everywhere.
Akhilesh made the comments and electoral promises at an event here after taking an “Anna Sankalp [food pledge]” to express his resolve for the welfare of farmers. The former chief minister was accompanied by farmers from Lakhimpur Kheri, including farm leader Tejinder Singh Virk who was among the protesters hit by a convoy of SUVs during a protest at the Tikonia crossing on October 3.
The farmers were protesting against the visit of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya at Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra’s ancestral village when the SUVs drove through the crowd of protesters, killing four of them and a journalist. Virk was critically injured.
Akhilesh also promised Rs 25 lakh for the families of the Lakhimpur Kheri victims and reiterated that an SP government would provide 300 units of free electricity for irrigation and withdraw cases against farmers.
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With grains of rice in one hand and stalks of wheat in another, Akhilesh Yadav took the anna sankalp to defeat and remove the BJP from power. He appealed to people to join him in taking this pledge, and said, “The Samajwadi Party (SP) has decided that we will take the pledge of the grain to remove and defeat those who are guilty of atrocities against farmers. Join this anna sankalp and take it forward.”
Asked if the SP would field Virk in the elections, Yadav was non-committal. “He is a respected person for his party.” On a question about the SP nominating Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, he replied, “If you bring him to me I will certainly consider so.”
Akhilesh also addressed the BJP’s sitting MLA from Gorakhpur (Urban) seat, Radha Mohan Agarwal, offering him the ticket from the constituency on an SP ticket. The BJP has decided to field Adityanath from the seat. Agarwal has been the MLA from Gorakhpur Urban since 2002.
“If you [reporters] can establish contact with him and speak to him, the ticket will be announced and he will get the ticket,” the SP chief told reporters.
He added, “I remember the oath-taking ceremony of Chief Minister [Yogi Adityanath]. I had seen Radha Mohan Agarwal on the occasion. He was not able to find a seat and had to keep standing. He has been insulted the most in the BJP government.”
Agrawal declined to comment on Akhilesh’s offer. State BJP spokesperson Harish Chandra Shrivastava, however, hit out at the Opposition leader, saying, “Every member of the BJP is a disciplined soldier of the party and accepts whatever responsibility is given to him by the party. In Gorakhpur, CM Adityanath is the party candidate but even in places where other BJP candidates are in the fray, the SP does not have any strong candidate. This is the reason for Akhilesh Yadav’s frustration and uneasiness.”
Meanwhile, hitting out at Adityanath and BJP leaders, the SP president alleged a bigger conspiracy was at play during the polls. While BJP leaders and workers were tearing up the model code of conduct, fingers were being raised at the SP, he added.
“We will write to the Election Commission and file a complaint. I am hopeful that the Election Commission will strictly ensure that rules are followed by them.”
Asked about Azad Samaj Party (ASP) leader Chandrashekar Azad’s allegation that the SP chief had insulted him and sidelined the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Akhilesh said the Dalit leader could still help him “as a brother”. He claimed that the ASP could not come to an internal agreement on contesting the two seats he had allocated.
“As far as Chandrashekar is concerned, I gave his party seats. If he wants to help me out as a brother, he should. If you look at history, BR Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia wanted to work together. Netaji [Mulayam Singh Yadav] made attempts to send [BSP founder] Kanshiram to the Assembly from his home district Etawah. So do not make allegations [against the SP] based on what others are saying.”
-With PTI inputs
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