BJP trying to divide people in the name of religion: Akhilesh Yadav

It doesn’t make development an election agenda because development unites people, he says

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said on Saturday it was the farmers who saved the economy during the pandemic. He was addressing a kisan panchayat organised by the party and Mahan Dal in Kasganj.

Announcing that the SP will not ally with national parties in future elections, he appealed to the audience to maintain a distance with other parties as well. “We will work with Rashtriya Lok Dal and Mahan Dal.” The SP had fought the 2017 Assembly elections in alliance with the Congress and lost miserably to a resurgent BJP.

Mr. Yadav said the region was the cradle of Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb (composite culture) but the BJP was trying to divide people in the name of religion. “Every time elections come close, they scheme to divide people. We can see the BJP is fighting Bengal elections in the name of Hindu-Muslim. They don’t make development an election agenda because development unites people.”

Earlier, Mr. Yadav reiterated, “During the pandemic, we followed the government’s advice to cover our mouth and nose but I want to ask what was the compulsion that forced the government to cover its eyes and ears that it is not being able to respond to the pain of farmers.” He said the government promised to double the income of farmers, the PM promised that the MSP would stay but “I want to ask has anybody in the panchayat been able to sell his paddy at the MSP this season”.

The government, he said, tried to discredit the movement. “No government has insulted the farmers as much as this one.” Raising the issue of unemployment and inflation, he urged the farmers and the youth to vote out the government. “This is the only way in a democracy. As soon as you dethrone them, the farm laws would be repealed,” he said.

Mr. Yadav said his party’s members were farmers first, members of a political party later. “We still look after our farms, tend to our cattle. It seems these laws have been made by those who don’t practise agriculture.”

Enumerating the achievements of the SP government in building roads, distributing laptops and making the police efficient, Mr. Yadav said, “It is true we are backward but our work is better than the so-called forward people.”

He also took on the Centre and the State governments for demonetisation, the plight of migrants during the pandemic and the increase in corruption at the tehsil level. “I want to ask why the BJP government is not distributing laptops among the youth… A true Yogi is one who understands the pain of his people. Has our UP CM responded to your concerns…He practised the policy of ‘thok do’,” said Mr. Yadav, taking at dig at Yogi Adityanath. “He is busy inaugurating projects that were started during the SP rule. His biggest achievement is changing names of cities and projects.”

The panchayat was also addressed by Keshav Dev Maurya, national president of the Mahan Dal, which claims support of Maurya, Shakyas and Kushwaha communities among the OBCs in the region.

In a related development, two FIRs were registered by the Moradabad police on Saturday in connection with the alleged assault on journalists after the press conference of Mr. Yadav in a city hotel on Thursday.

Moradabad ASP Amit Anand said one FIR was registered by the journalist association of Moradabad against Mr. Yadav and 20 unnamed SP workers for the alleged manhandling of some journalists. The FIR said Mr. Yadav provoked his security guards and party workers to assault journalists after they asked him uncomfortable questions. It caused injuries to some scribes. A cross FIR was registered by the district president of SP against two journalists.

Mr. Yadav, who was in Moradabad in connection with the cycle rally in support of beleaguered senior party leader Azam Khan, has denied the charges and said it was an attempt to malign the image of the party.

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