Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday challenged Narendra Modi to a debate on communalism and development, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial picked holes in UP’s progress and harmony under the SP regime.
“We challenge him to a debate on development and progress in UP vis a vis Gujarat,” he said, adding: “Would Modi sahab tell us if he made irrigation free for Gujarat farmers the way we did? Has he made medicines or education free, waived farmers’ loans, irrigation dues and given laptops to students? Do Gujarat youth get unemployment allowance, girls get aid for education and marriage like they do in UP?”
“Debate me face-to-face or write to me, I will reply in writing,” Mulayam said.
The SP chief also accused Modi and his party of instigating riots in Uttar Pradesh to impede the development measures of the state government. "When we start development, murders are committed and fires are set on... who did Muzaffarnagar... are your MLAs not involved?" he asked.
Mulayam was addressing his party’s ‘desh bachao, desh banao’ rally at Thomson Inter College in Gonda district which is regarded a Congress stronghold so far as Lok Sabha in concerned with friend-turned-foe Beni Prasad Verma being the local MP.
The Yadav leader repeated his claim that a third front would emerge the strongest in the 2014 elections, but said that he would not go into a pact with anyone before the polls. “Congress and BJP won’t be strong. The third front will emerge and SP will be the giant within it. Uttar Pradesh has 80 seats so even if Jayalalithaa wins all 39 Tamil Nadu seats, or Mamata Banarjee wins all 42 in Bengal, they would come nowhere near the SP,” he claimed.
SP is among over a dozen parties that are seeking a ‘non-Congress, non-BJP alternative’ at the Centre and is expected to soon take part in talks with Left, JD(U) and other regional parties to cobble together a third front.
Mulayam also criticised Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, questioning his credential in saying “those who make a noise about honesty may be dishonest themselves”.
The Samajwadi Party kicked off its campaign for the 2014 polls with a rally in Azamgarh in October, followed by ones in Bareily, Jhansi, and Varanasi.
In upcoming rallies in Saharanpur on February 11 and Gorakhpur on February 15, the SP chief is expected to keep up his attack on the BJP and also target the Congress, to which it gives outside support in Parliament now.
With PTI inputs