Amit Shah – in Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday to lay the foundation stone for a university – criticized Samajwadi party leader Akhilesh Yadav and praised Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Mr. Shah’s rally and comments were significant given the UP votes in just a few months.
The location (Azamgarh) was also crucial – it is Mr Yadav’s constituency and the BJP was hammered here in 2019, losing over 2.4 lakhs of votes and beaten by over 26,000 votes in 2017.
Important comments included the promise of “jam” for the people of the UP (which ended in a jibe against Mr Yadav) and a pledge to Adityanath as the party’s leading cabinet candidate.
“ModiI am has a JAM idea for India, UP bank accounts – Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobiles for everyone. When I said this in Gujarat, the Samajwadi party said that they also had an idea of ”jam”. A reporter told me that it meant “Jinnah, Azam Khan and Mukhtar (Ansari, the gangster turned politician imprisoned),” said Amit Shah.
“Now tell me… do you want our ‘jam’ or the one from the Samajwadi Party?” ” He asked.
As the elections approach, Akhilesh has started to see greatness in Jinnah. There are minorities sitting here … does anyone think Jinnah is great? Nobody … it’s only Akhilesh who feels it, ”he said.
The “Jinnah” coup against Mr. Yadav refers to the controversy over the comment by the leader of the Samajwadi party linking Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Just months away from the UP’s vote for a new government, the BJP (and others including AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi) happily jumped at the remark and roasted party leader Samajwadi.
Adityanath led the attack, calling Akhilesh Yadav a man with a “Taliban mentality”.
Critics also included BSP leader Mayawati, who claimed that the BJP and the Samajwadi party were working together to poison voters’ minds and polarize them ahead of the election.
Mr Yadav dismissed the criticism and asked those who attacked him to read history textbooks instead.
The BJP has always targeted the Samajwadi party – which has support among Muslims – for appeasement; At one point, Mr. Yadav’s father, Mulayam Singh, was nicknamed “Maulana Mulayam”.
Also today, in addition to offering “jam” to the UP, Mr. Shah also highlighted the BJP’s support for Adityanath as head of the party ministry – which is important given the intense buzz. surrounding his future after senior party leaders, including a Union minister, criticized his handling of the covid pandemic.
The call for votes included a subtle note of impatience with the results of the ballot.
“I said earlier that we never get adequate seats in Azamgarh … but”ab bahut ho gaya‘. I ask you to give all the seats to the BJP so that Yogi Adityanath can once again be Chief Minister, ”said Amit Shah.
This is not the first time that Amit Shah has praised Adityanath; last month he called for votes for the chief minister and, most importantly, linked those votes to the BJP’s election campaign in 2024, when Prime Minister Modi is expected to run for an unprecedented third consecutive term.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav was also not quiet today, responding to the BJP on his ground while campaigning in Adityanath’s backyard in Gorakhpur.
“There will and must be change. The public is disappointed with the Yogi government – their promises are false. They said inflation will be reduced … but the prices have gone up. Look at the fuel prices,” he said as he held a 60 km rally from Gorakhpur to nearby Kushinagar.
Mr Yadav spoke to NDTV this week and gave an overview of his plan to defeat the BJP – a pincer movement of regional parties in the east of the state and angry farmers in the west.
Its effectiveness can only be decided in the UP vote next year.