Lucknow : Thursday (January 23) was a cold day across eastern Uttar Pradesh, but the political atmosphere in these parts was charged by the almost simultaneous election speeches by Narendra Modi, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi, but at three different locations.
Modi targeted Mulayam and held him responsible for the poor development in Uttar Pradesh and described the SP, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress as one with the same master. He also taunted the father-son duo of Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav by suggesting that they are following him everywhere. The allusion was to the Samajwadi Party rallies, which have been held on the same day as Modi’s on at least four occasions.
In his speech, Modi referred to Mulayam’s comment that he does not want UP to become another Gujarat. “He cannot do so either… it requires a 56-inch chest to do so. He doesn’t know what ‘Gujarat’ means. It means 24-hour power supply, 10 per cent growth and endless opportunities.”
In UP, on the other hand, Mulayam had “failed to provide security, jobs or development. Examinations are not held on time, there is no fertilizer, and agriculture and sugar industry are ruined because of politics in the last decade.”
Modi said while the “rulers” had been given 60 years, he had asked the people to give him, a “sewak”, their trust for just 60 months and he will return it with “interest.” The state, he said, could progress greatly on the strength of agriculture and milk production only. He also referred to Dalits being used as vote bank by certain people in UP and highlighted the fact that “they (Dalits) had voted for BJP in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.”
Mulayam addressed a vast gathering in Varanasi in the presence of Akhilesh, ministers Azam Khan and others. He wondered why the BJP had chosen Modi, who has “blood on his hands,” as its prime ministerial candidate. “We do not discriminate between castes and communities, we are running a model government in Uttar Pradesh,” he said and appealed to the people to support SP, so that the party can play a crucial role in forming the next government at the Centre.
Comparing the performance of the Gujarat government with that of UP, Mulayam asked the people to find out whether the Gujarat government had given unemployment allowance, waived loans of farmers or given special facilities to women, as the SP government had done. He also criticised the Congress-led UPA government — which his party has been supporting for the last ten years — for being involved in corruption.
In Amethi, on the second day of his visit, Rahul Gandhi stopped at the way side to chat with young men and women; he also spent some time talking with media persons. In his address, Rahul said he belonged to Amethi while “there are others who keep coming and going…” The reference was apparently to Aam Admi Party’s Kumar Vishwas who is camping in Amethi.
He blamed the state government for the poor condition of electricity supply and roads, saying that the Centre had released money for everything but the state government had to do the needful.
He also clarified his stand on accepting prime ministership, saying he would consider the request “after the Congress wins the election.” He said, “In a democracy it is the MPs who choose the Prime Minister. If our party wins the election then I will consider the request.”