Lok Sabha elections 2019: Both Ali,Bajrang Bali are ours: Mayawati on Yogi Adityanath’s barb
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said on Saturday that “both Ali and Bajrang Bali are ours”, doubling down on a figure of speech that she and rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Adityanath have used to refer to Muslim and Hindu communities, which has earned both of them notices from the election commission.
Mayawati made the comments at an election campaign rally along with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, during what was the second joint rally between the two leaders who have come together for an alliance that many see as the ruling BJP’s biggest challenge in the state. “I want to tell him that both Ali and Bajrang Bali are ours.... So we want both Ali as well as Bajrang Bali,” she said, purportedly referring to chief minister Adityanath, who had previously accused the opposition parties of focusing their campaign only on Ali.
Ali is a revered figure in Islam, while Bajrang Bali refers to the Hindu god Hanuman.
“We particularly want Bajrang Bali because he is linked to my own Dalit caste,” said Mayawati, who is a Dalit community leader. Adityanath had last year described Hanuman as a forest dweller and a Dalit. “I am very thankful to Yogi ji that he has given us an important information about our ancestors. So, it is a very happy moment to note that we have both Ali and Bajrang Bali, and their coming together will give us very good results in these elections,” she added.
Yadav, too, targeted the UP chief minister over the issue. “Mayawatiji had said that our ‘baba mukhyamantri’ (chief minister) has talked about the caste of God. This time, the gods are not happy with these people,” he said.
The election commission had on Thursday issued notices to Adityanath as well as Mayawati for their “Ali” and “Bajrang Bali” references, which complainants to the commission said were attempts at using religion for campaigning.
Both have responded and the election commission said late on Friday that the responses were being looked into. This Adityanath’s second run-in with the commission; he was earlier told to be careful after he used the phrase “Modiji ki sena” – a comment that virtually amounted to using the armed forces in campaigning.
On Saturday, Mayawati and Yadav also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In these elections, no amount of drama or ‘jumlebaazi’ (rhetoric) is going to help the BJP. Even the new drama of ‘chowkidari’ is not going to save them this time,” Mayawati said.
“Last time Modi came as a ‘chai wallah’ and this time he has come as ‘chowkidar’. However, he does not know that the people have recognised him and his ‘jumlas’, and will be voting the alliance to power,” Yadav added.
Meanwhile, BJP’s national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain hit out at SP leader Azam Khan for his “Bajrang Ali” remark on Friday, accusing Khan of trying to flare up communal tension. Khan had waded into a controversy on Friday by saying, “In place of Ali and Bajrangbali, it should be Bajrang Ali. Bajrang Ali todh day dushman ki neli (Bajrang Ali will destroy our enemies’ bones).”
Khan’s remark was in the backdrop of Adityanath’s statement that 2019 Lok Sabha elections were a contest between Ali and Bajrang Bali.
Reacting to Khan’s remark, Hussain said, “With his ‘Bajrang Ali’ comment, he has insulted both Hinduism and Islam. The only suggestion I have for him is ‘zuban sambhal ke’ (mind your language). Both Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav have been taught lessons for his comments in the past,” he said at a press conference.