Modi replies to Akhilesh: Proud to slog more than a donkey for my 1.25 bn people | assembly-elections$uttarpradesh-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Modi replies to Akhilesh: Proud to slog more than a donkey for my 1.25 bn people

Taking on the UP chief minister in a poll rally in Rae Bareli, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Akhilesh Yadav’s criticism reflected his ‘casteist mentality’.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 26, 2017 20:41 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Uttar Pradesh assembly elections
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav addresses an election rally in Rampur.(PTI File Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded on Thursday to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s “Gujarat donkey” jibe, saying he was proud to work more than the beast of burden for his 1.25 billion “maaliks” or owners.

Political verbal duels during elections are expected, but the UP chief minister hadn’t even spared animals, he said at a BJP rally in Bahraich that votes in the fifth of the seven-phase assembly polls in the state on February 27.

“Akhileshji aaj aap jinke gale lage ho, unhi ki UPA sarkar ne gadhe pe dak ticket jaari kiya tha … (the UPA government, run by the leaders you have embraced today, had issued a postal stamp on donkeys in 2013),” Modi said.

The riposte follows Yadav’s remarks he advised Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, without taking his name, to not advertise for “donkeys of Gujarat”. The actor figures in an advertisement to promote tourism for a wild ass sanctuary in Gujarat, Modi’s home state.

He repeated the taunt on Wednesday at a public meeting in Bahraich, located along the India-Nepal border. “Bahraich main baagh hain, cheetah hain … par main gadhon ka jikra nahi karna chahta (There are lions and cheetahs in Bahraich but I don’t want to talk about donkeys),” Akhilesh said.

The Prime Minister, in his response, gave a spin to the donkey jibe and ridiculed Akhilesh for running down the animal.

He said he was happy to be more workaholic than a donkey. “Gadha maalik ka wafadar hota hai. Jitna kaam le lo karta hai aur kam se kam kharche wala hota hai (A donkey is loyal to its owner. It can take an immense workload and has low maintenance cost).”

“Akhileshji yeh 125 crore deshwaasi mere maalik hain. Woh mujhse jitna kaam lete hain main karta hoon … gadhe se bhi zyada kaam karke unke liye kaam aaon yeh mere liye gaurav ki baat hai (Akhileshji the country’s 1.25 billion people are my masters. I feel proud to slog for the people),” he said.

Modi slammed Akhilesh for targeting Gujarat’s donkeys.

“Akhileshji, the Gujarat you hate so much is the state where Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel were born … where Lord Krishna chose to settle. This is our country, this much hate doesn’t suit you.”

Akhilesh and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who have formed an alliance with the ruling Samajwadi Party before the Uttar Pradesh elections, have been accusing Modi of spreading hatred to polarise voters.

Appealing for change, Modi accused the SP government of converting Bahraich, which derives its name from Brahma of the holy Hindu trinity, into a den of corruption.

The chief minister’s donkey jibe has upset the Prajapati community — people who washed laundry traditionally — in Aligarh. “We are in shock. Donkeys are as important for our livelihood as cows are for Yadavs,” said Rajan Singh, president of the Prajapati Samaj Sangharsh Samiti, a social rights group of the community.