Ahead of 2017 polls, Mathura clashes a PR crisis for Akhilesh Yadav

  • Umesh Raghuvanshi, Hindustan Times, Lucknow
  • Updated: Jun 07, 2016 12:57 IST
BJP workers protesting against the Uttar Pradesh Government over poor law and order situation in the view of Mathura violence. (PTI)

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s efforts to shift the focus to ‘development’ in Uttar Pradesh has received a severe jolt amid allegations of inept handling of the violence in Mathura and political patronage to the mastermind behind the clashes.

Read: Mathura’s Jawahar Bagh pays the price: 2,500 trees missing

Opposition parties are losing no opportunity in taking political advantage of the incident months before the 2017 assembly elections in the state. The deteriorating law and order situation has already become the focus of their attacks. So has the chief minister for being ‘lax’ and ‘not taking the incident seriously’.

Read: Charred vehicles, destroyed lives: A glimpse into the Mathura mayhem | Pics

A demand for dismissal of his uncle and minister for public works department Shivpal Singh Yadav has also been made for patronising Ramvriksh Yadav - the leader of Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi.

Members of the little-known armed sect squatted in Jawahar Bagh area of the city for over two years, building a self-sustained unit inside the 280-acre government park, growing vegetables and even devising their own justice system.

Police descended on the encroachers last Thursday after a court ordered their removal. But the squatters – who had sophisticated arms with them – allegedly opened fire on the force and killed two senior police officers, including the city superintendent of police.

Read: Mathura violence ‘mastermind’ Ramvriksh Yadav dead: UP DGP

This triggered clashes and rioting inside the park that left at least 27 people dead.

Akhilesh’s attempts to assuage the feelings of people have failed and his detractors are blaming him for the whole issue calling his action as “too little and too late”.

“Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav should have placed the district magistrate Rajesh Kumar and district police chief Rakesh Kumar Singh under suspension. He did not do so as the DM has been a district magistrate in Kannauj while the district police chief enjoyed patronage from a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party,” Congress Legislature Party leader and Mathura MLA Pradeep Mathur said.

District magistrate Kumar and senior superintendent of police Singh were transferred days after violence broke out when police tried to evict encroachers from Jawahar Bagh.

“The Congress has already demanded a probe into the whole issue by a sitting high court judge. I made repeated requests to the chief minister to discuss Jawahar Bagh issue in the past two years. The chief minister always avoided any discussion,” he added.

His comments are in accordance with the line that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took on the issue soon after the incident.

“Unabated violence is a stark reminder of the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh--- Hope the Government ensures that peace in Mathura is restored immediately and the guilty are punished,” Rahul tweeted.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has also blamed the chief minister for “not taking the Mathura violence” seriously. She demanded a CBI probe into the incident under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday held statewide demonstrations to demand a CBI probe and dismissal of Shivpal Singh Yadav.

The ruling Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, adopted a counter strategy to wriggle out of the situation. On Monday, two senior party leaders Rajendra Chaudhary and Ambika Chaudhary strongly countered the accusations against its leaders and instead blamed the Centre for the Mathura clashes.

They demanded the resignation of Union home minister Rajnath Singh for not providing intelligence inputs to check the Mathura incident and said it was a political conspiracy to destabilise the SP government.

As demands for resignations from both sides is gaining momentum the truth may be lost in the din of politics of the ongoing blame game in Uttar Pradesh.

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