Under siege for his government’s handling of the gang-rape and murder of two minor girls in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav sought to deflect attention to the rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), accusing it of “influencing and paying” the victims’ families.
“We have phone records of a BSP MLA. He spoke to the families the minute he left Lucknow for Badaun and even directed them on what to say to the media. The BSP asked them to return the compensation offered by the state. They took money from the BSP but not from the state,” Yadav told HT in an exclusive interview.
Demonstrators protest against Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav in Katra Sadatganj, Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh, where two girls were gang-raped and murdered. (AFP Photo)
The CM, who is also under attack for UP’s worsening law and order situation, alleged the families were doing the BSP’s bidding.
Read: UP govt suspends Badaun SP, transfers top officers
Responding to the charge, the brother of one of the Badaun girls told HT, “We want justice. I don’t want to be obliged to Yadav by taking money from the state government. I am not under the influence of any party, including the BSP.”
The families have made up their minds to leave the state, saying they have been receiving threats and that they can’t trust the police to protect them when they are also guarding the homes of the accused — three brothers from the Yadav community.
Asked why his government was unable to stop the families from leaving UP, Yadav said, “I am concerned about their safety and I don’t want them to leave but ask them who is guiding them.”
Read: Badaun horror stalks Delhi too
The CM also defended the move to protect the accused, saying, “Different castes live in the same village, and has the court decided the guilt of the accused yet?”
Refuting the CM’s allegations, the BSP’s Swami Prasad Maurya said he was playing the blame game when he should be taking measures to restore law and order and instill confidence in people.
Maurya also alleged Yadav had visited the family of the Delhi gang rape victim in Ballia and handed over a cheque for Rs. 20 lakh but did not deem it necessary to visit Badaun as the victims belonged to the backward Shakya community.Read: Staring at women is an Indian pastime, even nuns get stared at, says travel expert
The CM, on his part, said politicians had made a beeline for Badaun only because the press had reported that the girls were Dalits. He hinted that many politicians who went there may not have done so if they had known the families were OBCs and not Dalits.
Among the prominent politicians who visited Badaun were BSP chief Mayawati, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar of the Congress.
Yadav also accused the BJP of targeting the ruling Samajwadi Party, saying this was because the SP was the only party with some standing in UP.
“Right now, the BJP is flush with victory. The BSP and Congress have been wiped out and they are targeting me because I am young. They want to finish me politically,” the 40-year-old said.
(With inputs from HTC Lucknow, Delhi)