LUCKNOW: Kannauj witnessed a crucial caste battle with a major face-off between ruling BJP and SP-BSP mahagathbandhan on the final day of campaign for fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections, voting for which will take place on Monday, April 29, 2019.
The political temperature soared as the bigwigs from both the sides including PM Narendra Modi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav accompanied with wife and party candidate Dimple landed in Kannauj on Saturday. By the end of the day, even BSP chief Mayawati also jumped into the controversial discourse joining issue with the PM.
Addressing a poll rally in Kannauj, PM Modi took on BSP chief Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav over their comments on his caste. “I would like to thank Mayawati ji, Akhilesh ji and Congress for reminding me of my caste. I hail from an Extreme Backward Caste, my caste is so small that there are only two-three houses of my caste in my village,” claimed the PM in a bid to respond to the questions raised by the alliance leaders saying the PM had allegedly fudged his caste details to claim that he belonged to backward caste whereas he belonged to upper caste.
Further asking the SP-BSP alliance not to drag him into caste politics, PM Modi said, “I request Behenji (Mayawati) please don’t drag me into caste politics. I never indulge in it. Backward caste might be a matter of politics for SP-BSP but for me, it’s an opportunity to serve my country,” said the PM countering the claims of his rivals. The PM expressed regret that the mahagathbandhan was focused “only on caste completely ignoring the crucial issues.”
“I have never spoken about my caste, but mahamilawati people are forcing me to speak about it. I am not backward but was born in extreme backwardness. Don’t drag me into this caste politics,” said PM Modi.
The statement came days after BSP Supremo Mayawati had alleged in a joint rally that PM Modi did not belong to backward class and it was Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav who was from
backward class and have been working towards the development of the backward people.
Slamming the BSP chief Mayawati for seeking the support of Samajwadi Party (SP) "just for sake of power", Modi said "Mahamilavatis" could only think of the future of their own dynasty and they were not concerned about the future of the country.
The PM coined the slogan --- Jaat Paat Japna, Paraya Maal Apna – and accused the opposition of attacking ‘chowkidar’ and Ram Bhakts as the only agenda of opposition.
Meanwhile, responding to the PM’s attack, BSP chief Mayawati convened a press conference on Saturday evening to clarify her position over the PM’s jibe regarding his caste. The BSP chief once again renewed her attack on the PM over his caste. She reiterated that Modi got himself registered as backward to get political gains out of it. She even denied calling PM ‘neech’ ever and accused him of trying to polarise the poll narrative. “I have always extended respect to him by calling him to be of upper caste,” said the BSP chief with a tinge of sarcasm.
In a bid to address the minorities and keep them in good humour, the BSP chief even charged the BJP with calling minorities with different names if they ever expressed their opinion. “They are even branded as terrorist,” she claimed advising the ruling party to treat all the citizens equal.
In a hurriedly called press conference to minimise the possible damage to her clout due to PM’s caste jibe, the BSP supremo claimed it to be a misguiding notion and a tactic to influence the dalit voters.
Responding to the FIR registered by the CBI in the sugar mill sale case on Friday, the BSP chief said she had no problem with the probe but the timing raises the eyebrows. “The BJP has proved yet again that it is using CBI as a caged parrot to intimidate its political rivals,” she said claiming that as UP CM she had no role to play in the sale of 21 sugar mills during her 2007-12 tenure.