Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav went on the front foot on Saturday while countering the Bharatiya Janata Party’s accusation that the Samajwadi Party government was "promoting and patronising love jihad" in the state.
‘Love jihad’ is a term coined by some Hindu groups for alleged efforts by young Muslims to get non-Muslim girls to convert to Islam by feigning love for them.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Yadav threw a verbal counter-punch when asked to react to the BJP’s accusation and said: “Tell me which chief minister had banned falling in love…Kya mohabbat pe pabandi laga dogey? (Do you want a ban on a girl and a boy falling in love?)” The press conference was held on the occasion of some Congress leaders joining the SP.
But before making these comments, Yadav said he was not aware of what transpired at the BJP’s state executive meeting at Vrindavan.
Referring to the row over loudspeakers at places of worship and love jihad, Akhilesh said: “UP mein jitney bhi mamley hain, un pe rajneeti ho rahi hai (Every other issue in UP is being politicised. Everyone wants to do politics over UP and gain mileage).”
He questioned the media’s role in blowing crime cases in UP “out of proportion”.
“Incidents were exaggerated by the media. What happened in the Badaun case? For two months, media harped on its theories in the Badaun case.
In the end, it was proved false. The same has happened in the Faizabad incident also. Was not the boy known to the girl?” he said.
“In the Badaun case, the media even changed the caste of the victims. Media called them Dalits. At this, a political party (referring to BSP) which never used to show up following such incidents, converged at the place and even offered money to the kin of the victims. Shouldn’t CBI also investigate the benefits political people extracted form the case? Shouldn’t CBI investigate the political links in the case?” he said.
He said the media blew up the case so much out of proportion that it became international news. “So much so that even the US and the UN took note. Now, when the case has turned out to be different from what the media had reported, what shall I do? Shall I write to the UN and the US as the UP CM?” he said.
Referring to the Mohanlalganj case in which a woman was murdered, he said: “Some people orchestrated the dharna by the children of the victim. Was media not aware of the reality in the case? Even the pictures (of the victim’s nude body) were sold. People made money out of it.”
He also said: “Sarkar ki kamiyon ko dikhaaiye, hum kamiyon ko sweekar karengye (I am all for media showing shortcomings or failures of the government in a constructive manner. We will accept those failings gracefully).”
He refused to comment on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati’s statement that UP now needed her as the next chief minister.