NEW DELHI: Anticipation of a late January-February polling schedule in Uttar Pradesh in the backdrop of the ‘surgical strike’ across the line of control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, has the state’s political opponents taking aim below each other’s belt. Lest the Indian Army’s strike at terror launch-pads across LoC gives the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP an extra zing in the polls, a war of words have started over whether the BJP and its ministers should get credit for the Indian Army’s bravado. At the heart of it is a few posters that came up in the poll-bound state giving credit to the PM and his Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s facilitation by the enthusiastic BJP cadre in Agra, and the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi harsh retaliatory fire terming it “khoon ki dalali’’ (trading on blood of soldiers).
On the home stretch of his 3,800 km Kisan Yatra during which Gandhi targeted the PM and his policies for plight of the farmers, this was too big an issue to be left unattended. But it was felt that Gandhi overtly angry version of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’, had backfired.
Till, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav came along on Monday with a bail-out package. “It’s not a question of (supporting) the Congress, but I have good relations with Rahul Gandhi. If he has said something he must have given it much thought. He must have some information about it,’’ Yadav said. With Prime Minister scheduled to reach Lucknow for Dusshera celebrations, Yadav is naturally on a defensive wicket. Thus, between lending support to Gandhi, he also quipped: “Had there been elections in Bihar, he (PM) would have slayed Ravana there.’’ He made a point to add that he had visited the homes of the soldiers martyred in Uri.
“Ultimately, the poor lost their lives, the farmers are dying, their sons are dying, so what do they know about surgical strike? The question is if you and I have good ties but the relations on border are strained, the country and the world are unable to understand this,’’ the UP CM said.
The main challenger to Yadav, BSP chief and former UP CM Mayawati took a similar line at her Sunday rally. She criticised the PM’s decision to “celebrate Dussehra” when the “pyres of the Indian soldiers were still warm’’. In the same breath, refuting speculation that she may be tilt towards the BJP post-elections, Mayawati advised Muslims not to waste their votes on SP or Congress, instead rally behind her to give BJP a “befiitting’’ reply. It’s the division of the Muslim votes that helped the BJP win a landslide in the Lok Sabha elections, she added.
Yadav’s rescue of Gandhi came through this clubbing of their two parties by Mayawati. With the Congress chipping in to add that it was thoroughly opposed to BJP’s attempt of “usurping credit meant for the Indian Army courageous action’’ and “martrydom’’ for itself, it become evident that the SP and the Congress could be closing ranks. And that the political parties in UP, may go for a realignment to try to limit the four-cornered context to two.