Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday accused the previous Samajwadi Party (SP) government of engaging in an appeasement policy in Uttar Pradesh. He also claimed that the government at the time used to discriminate the distribution of power along religious lines.
“There was power during Taazia and Moharram, but none during Parshuram Jayanti, Ram Jayanti and Krishna Janmotsav,” said Amit Shah, addressing public meetings in the east of UP.
“Mujhe batayo ye theek hai kya (tell me, if so, okay?),” he asked as the crowd waved in disapproval.
Amit Shah spoke to Phephna, Bansdeeh (Ballia), Farenda (Maharajganj) and Nautanwa (Maharajganj).
Amit Shah’s take on the discriminatory power supply during the SP regime is part of the BJP’s plan to target the Samajwadi party and portray it as a party committed to appeasement policies.
Another example that party leaders like Amit Shah have often cited in the UP campaign is that Yogi Adityanath’s government has cleansed the eastern UP of the ‘macchhar aur mafia (mosquitoes and mafia) “.
“Tell me where Azam Khan, Mukhtar Ansari or Atiq Ahmad are these days. Behind bars, right? Now tell me if SP comes to power, will these stay in jail. Do you want them in jail or do you want them out on bail? Shah has said in each of his rallies and asserted that it is important for the BJP to be elected to power again to keep the criminals at bay. In the West UP campaign earlier, Amit Shah hit the Samajwadi party with the jibe NIZAM and explained that NIZAM means rule in Urdu. He then explained that the abbreviation stood for Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Azam Khan, Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmad.
“What can I do if they happen to be Muslims? Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had recently said in a news channel interview when asked about the opposition’s accusation that the BJP only targets Muslims.
Political pundits were quick to notice that the BJP aimed to avoid caste voting in the eastern UP and so examples, such as those that Amit Shah or other BJP leaders made during the campaign, subtly aim to ensure that BJP voters vote as one, not according to caste.
In 2017 UP polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also flagged the issue. “If a village receives funds for a cemetery, it should also receive funds for cremation grounds. If you provide uninterrupted power supply on Eid day, you should also provide it for Holi,” Modi said during the 2017 UP campaign.
This time, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath targeted the SP, saying that during his reign, all the Samajwadi Party government did was build walls around Muslim cemeteries and the Shah focused on religious discrimination under the SP regime.
Modi, on the other hand, focused on telling anecdotes from the two Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata to subtly argue that ancient India did not believe in caste division. He even invented a slogan which said that only the welfare of the poor was the sole objective of his government.
“Jaati dharm se upar uthkar badhaya hai samman, sabse pehle, garib kalyan (have risen above caste and religion, the welfare of the poor is the priority),” he said during its rallies in the east of UP on Sunday.
To this end, Modi even recounted how his government’s free ration scheme had benefited 15 million people in UP and also carried out a breakdown of beneficiaries.
“Of these 15 crores, nine crores are backward, three crores are Dalits and an equal number are general category poor,” Modi told Deoria on Sunday to highlight how his government’s benefits are aimed at the poor of all castes.
Drawing heavily from Hindu religious texts and scriptures, he recalled how Lord Krishna was supported by the poor and commoners, when he raised Govardhan mountain to protect the people from the wrath of the rain god Indra. “Lord Ram eating Shabri-tasting berries or raising a force of forest dwellers to confront the mighty Ravan are all in our scriptures that should have helped our politicians to focus on the poor,” Modi said, adding that the Hindu religious texts presented equality.
“Lord Ram’s transition from a prince to a lord was only complete after he ate Shabri’s tasted berries and met Nishadraj,” Modi added. The BJP signed a pre-election pact with the Nishad party as well as Apna Dal (Sonelal), both based on the OBC.
“The BJP does not believe in caste politics. So whether it’s the prime minister or the interior minister of the union, both have stated facts. As all Hindus would know how Lord Ram and Lord Krishna while trying out their role on earth gave the message of equality of all. It is also a fact that during SP rule there was blatant discrimination on religious and caste criteria,” a BJP official said.