BSP chief Mayawati attacks PM Modi at mega Kanshi rally
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shouldn’t celebrate Dussehra in Lucknow when families of soldiers who died at the Uri army base attack were still mourning, BSP president Mayawati said on Sunday at a party rally that ended in a tragic stampede.Updated: Oct 09, 2016 23:51 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shouldn’t celebrate Dussehra in Lucknow when families of soldiers who died at the Uri army base attack were still mourning, BSP president Mayawati said on Sunday at a party rally that ended in a tragic stampede.
Police said two women died and another 13 people were injured in the tragedy outside Kanshi Ram Memorial, the rally venue, where the victims tripped on a stairway near an exit gate and the rushing crowd pinned them down.
“Some of the elderly, mostly women, stumbled and fell on the stairs. They could not get up and two of them suffocated to death,” said Parshuram Tripathi, inspector at Alambagh police station.
The BSP supporters tried to rush out after the rally because of the intense heat and humidity.
Prior to the untoward incident, Dalit leader and four-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati rained political heat on the BJP, seen as her main rival in next year’s state elections, and the party’s biggest star, Modi, whom she has been targeting at every rally for the past few months.
She said Modi’s decision to attend Dussehra festivities at Aishbagh Ramlila ground in Lucknow on October 11 is politically motivated.
“If the sacrifice of soldiers has really stimulated him, he should celebrate Dussehra and Diwali with simplicity.”
Addressing her supporters on the occasion of her mentor and Dalit ideologue Kanshi Ram’s 10th death anniversary, Mayawati said the BJP was using the army’s post-Uri surgical strikes on militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan for political gains.
She said such strikes were carried out by previous governments too, but they did not highlight these to gain political mileage.
“The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government is trying to create a hype similar to the one by the US after the killing of Osama bin Laden. The government is trying to create war frenzy in the country to hide its failures,” Mayawati said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to cash in on any goodwill the surgical strikes had generated in the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand assembly elections next year, she said. “Instead of crediting the Prime Minister for the surgical strikes, the BJP should praise our soldiers.”
Also, she cautioned her supporters that the BJP could foment communal tension to polarise voters.
“Atrocities on Dalits and Muslims have increased since the BJP came to power at the Centre,” she said.
The BSP chief cautioned Muslims that voting for Samajwadi Party or Congress will only help BJP and sought their support “to stop” the saffron party.
“Muslims should not waste their vote as there is infighting in Samajwadi Party and Congress lacks a voter base in Uttar Pradesh,” she said.
For its part, the BJP reacted sharply to Mayawati’s criticism of Modi.
“Mayawati cannot question any other party, especially not the BJP. She is considered an idol of corruption in Uttar Pradesh,” BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said.
Moments after Mayawati ended her speech, the stampede happened.
The injured were rushed to hospital and the condition of three of them was stated to be grave.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex gratia of `2 lakh each to the next of kin of the two who died.
The government will bear the cost of treatment of the injured people.
Police inspector Tripathi said 58-year-old Shanti Devi of Kanpur is among the dead, while the other women is yet to be identified. The injured included 11 women and two men.
With agency inputs
First Published: Oct 09, 2016 23:51 IST