Uttar Pradesh on Sunday witnessed a fiery war of words between two political leaders, whose tone and tenor suited more to a street brawl than an election campaign seeking to ensure more seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Not to be outdone, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal too chipped in and addressed a rally at Kanpur, his first in the state, but failed to draw as much crowds as SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and the BJP’s Narendra Modi did in Allahabad and Lucknow respectively.
While Modi played up his OBC background and went on to say the next decade would belong to Dalits and other backward communities, Mulayam ticked off the Gujarat Chief Minister for his remarks that “for ensuring development, you need a huge 56-inch chest”.
“When Muslims were massacred in Ahmedabad, I had gone there to meet the victims. But you (Modi) as the Chief Minister didn’t allow me to. Nor did you provide me with security. I risked my life to meet the grieving riot victims. Now, who is braver? Whose chest is stronger and wider? Mine for meeting the hapless victims or yours under whose watch innocent people were killed?,” he said.
Attacking the BJP, he said: “I have heard the BJP president is talking about apologising to Muslims. You first carry out a massacre and then apologise? Don’t take Muslims for granted. I warn you not to rub salt on their wounds.” Threatening to expose Modi’s “false” claims of development, Mulayam rattled off statistics on infant mortality, maternal mortality and pollution in Gujarat and said Akhilesh Yadav had done a far better job in his state.
The Yadav chieftain also lit into the Congress, saying Sonia Gandhi was concerned only about the development of her Rae Bareli constituency. He attacked the UPA government for “failing to protect the country’s geographical borders”.