Only we can challenge BJP, says Mayawati at UP Oppn rally
Uttar Pradesh’s Opposition alliance held its first joint rally on Sunday, launching a scathing attack on both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, which, it said, was out to divide votes in the politically crucial state that sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh put up a show of strength in Saharanpur district, which will vote in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 11, and sounded confident of throwing a strong challenge to BJP, which alone won 71 seats in the state in the 2014 elections.
“The Congress is not strong enough to give a tough fight to BJP. Only the grand alliance can,” said Mayawati, who addressed the rally first. “The Congress has this realisation. But they think... the alliance should not win. They have given tickets on caste and religious calculations to help the BJP,” she said.
Mayawati said the Congress was busy dividing the votes, and cautioned the gathering to guard against any such attempt. “In western UP, where people of all communities live...I want to tell the Muslim community...do not divide your votes...give it to the BSP, SP and RLD alliance.”
“The Congress remained out of power due to its wrong policies and the BJP will be out of power because of its wrongdoings...,” she added.
The BSP leader’s appeal to the Muslim community irked the BJP, which registered a complaint with the Election Commission. “We have requested the Election Commission to act against Mayawatiji so that such remarks aren’t made during elections,” UP BJP vice president JPS Rathore said.
Rathore, who is also the incharge of the party’s poll management in UP, wrote in his complaint that asking Muslims to cast votes against a particular party was akin to stoking communal feelings. An EC official said the poll watchdog has sought recordings of the speeches of Mayawati, Yadav and Singh, who addressed the gathering.
At the rally, supporters of the three partners of the UP coalition shouted slogans like “Gathbandhan zindabad (Long live the alliance)”, waved their flags and danced to the beats of drums.
Some supporters of the Bhim Army, a Dalit outfit, too were seen at the venue. Mayawati, however, has refused to align with the group, saying it was helping the BJP — a charge that the Bhim Army denies.
Mayawati continued with her tirade against BJP and Congress. “If the PM (Narendra Modi) was serious about the welfare of poor, they (the government) would not have been inaugurating schemes after polls were announced. They would have performed during their tenure.” “Removing Modi is not enough, (UP CM) Yogi (Adityanath) also needs to be shown the door.” She was equally critical of the Congress’s Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), under which the party promised minimum guaranteed income to the poor. “The Nyay scheme is not a stable solution for removing poverty, BSP believes giving jobs to every hand is,” the BSP leader said.
Reacting to her statement, UP Congress leader Zeeshan Haider avoided making a direct attack. “The Congress is contesting the elections. So are the BJP, the SP-BSP-RLD alliance and others. All parties talk to voters...The BJP’s government is going, and only the Congress will replace it. Voters are wise, let them decide.”
At the Opposition rally, Akhilesh said, “The policies of both the Congress and the BJP are the same...The Congress does not want to bring in a change.” “In 2014, we trusted a chaiwala (tea seller), the poll promise of crores of jobs and so many other promises. Now we are being told to trust the chowkidar. We will remove chowkidars’ (watchmen) from all the chowkis (post),” he told the crowd.
RLD president Singh, who is contesting from the Muzaffarnagar seat, took a dig at the BJP’s promise of “achchhe din”, saying Modi wasn’t talking about people’s but his own “achche din”.
(With agency inputs)