Rajat Sharma

UP polls: It’s Yogi vs Akhilesh now

akb fullThe election campaign in Uttar Pradesh is now in full swing with all major stakeholders addressing election meetings across western and central regions. BJP president J P Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav, RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, BSP supremo Mayawati and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi are busy addressing election rallies. Yogi will file his nomination in Gorakhpur on Friday. On Wednesday, he addressed four election meetings in western UP.

As the poll campaign speed went on full throttle, Yogi and Akhilesh Yadav were locked in a war of words, levelling charges and counter-charges. Yogi alleged in his meetings that two ‘ladke’ (youths) have now joined hands to fight elections, but when there were communal riots in Muzaffarnagar five years ago, one of them was in Lucknow felicitating the leader of rioters, while the other was in Delhi, doing nothing for the victims. Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary promptly responded.

Addressing a joint press conference, Akhilesh Yadav said, the chief minister should be careful with his words while levelling accusations. “The language that Yogi Ji is using does not behove the dignity of the chair of the chief minister. He said, Yogi seems not have lost his bearings after he was denied the ticket of his choice, he is feeling the heat, but he would calm down after the results are out on March 10.

Yogi was unsparing in his attack on Akhilesh Yadav. He said, previously chief ministers used to spend lavishly on their official bungalows, but during his five-year-rule, houses were built for 43 lakh poor families in UP. He alleged that most of the money from official exchequer were being diverted to the friends of the then CM, who used to manufacture perfumes (itra waale mitra). “They are only Samajwadi by name, but by act, they are ‘dangawadi’ (rioters), and their thought process is pariwaarwadi (dynastic)”, Yogi said.

Akhilesh threatened that if his party came to power, all previous criminal cases filed against Yogi will be reopened. Undeterred, Yogi went on alleging that during SP’s rule there used to be illegal gun making factories in UP, but under BJP rule, a defence corridor for making defence related products, has been launched. Yogi said, during earlier rule, gangsters and mafia used to rule, while during BJP rule, bulldozers were used to destroy illegal properties acquired by corrupt mafia gangsters. “These bulldozers shall not stop”, Yogi said.

What I find is, during the earlier phase of campaigning, Akhilesh Yadav used to list the achievements of his rule and promise to implement new schemes if his party comes to power, but after he cobbled an alliance with smaller parties, Akhilesh appears to be spending much of his time in keeping this alliance intact.

Akhilesh is now relying more on the success of his allies as the dates of polling approach. Akhilesh no more speaks about crime, corruption and rioters. The reason is that his party and his allies have given tickets to several candidates who have criminal background. This has given Yogi the opportunity to strike back at Akhilesh, the main topic being, tickets given to criminals and gangsters.

Yogi Adityanath cleverly mixes the two: the achievements during his rule and the weaknesses and failures of Akhilesh’s rule. Look at the manner in which he launches his attack on rivals: he mentions how 43 lakh families got houses during his rule and juxtaposes this figure with the money spent by previous chief ministers on their bungalows.

Yogi then compares the illegal arms factories that used to thrive during earlier rule, and compares this with the defence corridor that is going to manufacture artillery guns for our army. He then reminds voters of how Akhilesh felicitated leaders who had a hand behind Muzaffarnagar riots and in the same breath, mentions how his government sent criminals, rioters, and corrupt mafia leaders behind bars and bulldozed their ill-gotten properties.

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