Rajat Sharma

Modi to UP: Must not allow gangsters to come back

akb full_frame_74900The Election Commission on Monday extended the ban on road shows, padyatra, cycle rallies and election meetings, but allowed gathering of up to 1,000 people at meetings, provided the ground should have double the space. Now, up to 20 people can join door-to-door campaign, by following Covid guidelines. The effect is there for all to see.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who used to address lakhs of people in his election rallies, had to address a virtual rally on Monday. LED vans and TV screens were set up at 100 locations to cover 21 assembly constituencies of western UP, including Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat, Saharanpur and Gautam Budh Nagar.

The rally was different in form, but the content was strikingly the same, as Modi lambasted the opposition, Samajwadi Party in particular, which has emerged as the main rival to BJP in UP. Modi told the voters the basic difference between Akhilesh Yadav’s governance and Yogi’s style of administration.

Without naming Akhilesh, Modi said, a leader who is used to sleep for long hours can dream, but Yogi stays awake and takes ‘sankalp’ (vow) to achieve his targets. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath joined this virtual rally from Agra. Up to 500 people watched Modi speech at each location, taking the total to 50,000.

In his speech, Narendra Modi reminded voters how ‘dabang’ (musclemen) and mafia leaders used to rule the state five years ago during Akhilesh Yadav’s rule. Modi said, “five years ago, the word of musclemen was law, they were above the law, traders were robbed and womenfolk feared to move out in the open, mafia leaders, under government patronage, used to move around freely.”

Modi said, “the people of western UP will never forget when there was communal violence in their areas, the ruling party was celebrating festival (in Saifai). Five years ago, the homes and lands of Dalits and downtrodden were forcibly occupied, there was massive exodus of people, kidnappings and extortions had made life hell for businessmen, but in the last five years, Yogi’s government has ensured law and order in the state.”

“The same gangsters and mafia leaders”, Modi warned, “now want to come back to power and they have been given tickets to contest elections. These gangsters are waiting for this opportunity to make a comeback. They want to take revenge. I am happy to see that the people of this region are now wary of such gangsters. The people of UP are going to bless the BJP again, after watching our work (kaam) and their misdeeds (kaarnaama)”. Those who sleep for long hours, can only watch dreams, but Yogi is a leader who stays awake, take vows (Sankalp) and fulfils them.”

“The double engine government is working at double speed”, Modi said, “expressways in UP are now being doubled, number of airports in UP have now doubled, UP is the only state where there are five Metros running in cities, the previous government only used to chalk out projects, but our government completes projects.”

Modi claimed that the first-time young voters of UP are supporting the BJP because they understand which party can nurture their future. “BJP has the vision and leadership, and on the other side, there are leaders full of arrogance, who sell dreams and divide the society. In the name of vision, they know only how to oppose. They are fake Samajwadis (socialists).”

Modi’s speech has given a clear message to the voters of UP: If Akhilesh Yadav returns to power, mafia leaders and gangsters will rule the roost. Akhilesh Yadav’s party has given tickets to many such criminals, gangsters and mafia leaders, against whom there are criminal cases pending.

The main thrust of BJP’s campaign is to project Yogi Adityanath as a leader, who has ensured law and order in UP. Even his rivals agree that Yogi has struck the terror of law in the minds of criminals and gangsters.

Yogi has been saying, day in and day out, at his meetings that history sheeters and criminals used to run the show at police stations and forcibly occupy land. It was only during his rule that criminals, wearing placards around the neck, come to police stations to surrender, because they fear they may lose their life in encounters. It was during Yogi’s rule that bulldozers were used to raze illegal properties built by mafia leaders.

It is true that if Uttar Pradesh wants to march on the path to progress, it needs peace and law and order. Only then can social welfare schemes for the poor and downtrodden can be implemented properly. In his speech, Modi mentioned the large number of welfare schemes implemented by Yogi’s government. This would not have been possible if the gangsters and corrupt mafia leaders were not brought to book.

During the last five years of Yogi’s rule, 33 lakh houses and more than 2.5 crore toilets were built, and poor people were the beneficiaries. Yogi claims, his government gave 1.5 crore free electricity connections to poor families and more than a crore beneficiaries are getting Rs 1000 per month pension along with free ration. More than Rs 4 lakh crore worth investments were made in the state.

Akhilesh Yadav, while countering Yogi’s charges about SP giving tickets to criminals, has been alleging that it was Yogi who withdrew all criminal cases filed against him, soon after coming to power. I asked Yogi Adityanath while interviewing him for ‘Chunav Manch’. Yogi emphatically said, he did not withdraw any criminal case against himself.

On Monday, Akhilesh Yadav alleged that BJP has given tickets to 99 candidates who had criminal background. The only interesting part is that neither Akhilesh Yadav nor his party leaders speak about SP tickets given to known criminals and gangsters in western UP. These are candidates against whom cases of attempt to murder, kidnappings and riots are pending.

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