It is arguably the biggest ‘scam’ Uttar Pradesh has seen this poll season. And it all started with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP’s poll star kicked off a major political row on Saturday after he described his political rivals as a SCAM -- an acronym he used to refer to the Samajwadi Party, Congress, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati.
“Do you know what ‘scam’ stands for? It is ‘S’ for Samajwadi Party, ‘C’ for Congress, ‘A’ for Akhilesh and ‘M’ for Mayawati,” Modi said at a rally in Meerut.
He attacked the opposition over several issues but what riled them most was the word scam, a common word in India which has seen many of them over the years.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous and politically crucial state, will vote in seven phases starting February 11 and the stakes are high for all.
The BJP is attempting to capture power after 19 years. The ruling Samajwadi Party is trying to overcome a bitter and bruising family battle in the Yadav family which has divided the party into two distinct camps.
The Congress, almost pushed to the periphery of the state’s politics, is hoping to regain lost ground, or some of it, by striking an alliance with the SP.
And for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati – a five-time chief minister – now is the time to rouse the Dalits and backward classes to teach the big parties a bigger lesson.
Akhilesh Yadav was quick to hit back at Modi as he gave his own interpretation of scam.
“It means ‘Save the Country from Amit Shah and Modi’,” Yadav said at a campaign rally in Auraiya.
“Everyone has suffered badly in their quest for ‘achche din’; they had stood in queues from morning to night to take their own hard earned from the banks,” he added, referring to the Modi’s government’s shock recall of high-value banknotes.
The Congress was angry too at Modi’s barb. And the party found its own choice of words.
“The Prime Minister is very keen to use English abbreviations and he used ‘SCAM’ to attack his political rivals. We will tell you what ‘SCAM’ means in Hindi -- it is ‘Satta bhogi, captee dhongi Amit Shah Modi’,” Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan told reporters in Delhi.
It means “power-hungry, deceitful and pretender”
Vadakkan had more to offer, as he dubbed the BJP a “Bhagoda Jugadu Party”, “Bhai Bhateejawad Party”, “Bhaichara Jalao Party”, “Bhrashtachar Jagao Party” and “Bhramjaal Jagao Party”.
Vadakkan also alleged that the Prime Minister talks of scams and scamsters as “all such people are in BJP and demonetisation is the biggest scam that he has given to the country due to which all sections of society suffered”.
In Lucknow, Mayawati said Modi’s scam comment was indicative of his party’s petty casteist mentality.
“It is unbecoming of a person sitting on the post of Prime Minister to take names of individuals for his political fight…it shows his petty casteist mentality,” she said in a statement.
Twitter had a field day as users came up with their own versions of the word:
SCAM toh hamne kiye hai par yeh Modi dekhta hi nahi— Arwind Kejriwal (@TrollKejriwall) February 4, 2017
Amit Shah- What's your prediction for UP elections?— Sagar (@sagarcasm) February 4, 2017
Modi- CHUP MC
Amit Shah- What?
Modi- Congress Haaregi Uttar Pradesh, My Calculation
NAMO = New Acronym Manufacturing Obsession #SCAM— BitterSweet (@melwynm) February 4, 2017
And those were not drawn into the ‘scam’ found their own metaphors to remain in currency.
Muslim leader Asaduddin Owaisi said Uttar Pradesh will give “triple talaq” to the Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party as he picked on a contentious issue which is caught in a nationwide debate.
“There is no difference between Modi and Akhilesh... Both make a fool of people in the name of development... Uttar Pradesh will give triple talaq... to SP, Congress and BSP,” the president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)?said at an event organised by a news channel in Lucknow.
(With agency inputs)