Balia, Uttar Pradesh:
One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s biggest censures of Akhilesh Yadav in these elections – of making a career out of sheer nepotism – was flipped by the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister as he said the ruling party always overlooked its instances of ‘family first’.
“I heard the speech he gave in Balia. He spoke about family and nepotism 15 times in his speech. And in the whole day, he must have spoken at least 25 times about extreme nepotism. I want to ask him that just because nobody is talking about his family, does not mean he’s not family-oriented,” Mr Yadav, 48, told NDTV in an interview.
“How has the son of his second-in-command entered the world of cricket? Yogi Adityanath, the current Chief Minister, if his uncle wasn’t in the [Gorakhpur] mutt, perhaps our Chief Minister wouldn’t have been heading the mutt either,” he said, taking a shot at Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah, the Honorary Secretary of India’s powerful cricket board BCCI.
“When the Prime Minister was giving his speech on families and nepotism in Balia, did he not see the former MP from here standing next to him? Is he going to forget about Jyotiraditya Scindia? Two of his aunts are in the BJP. Whose son is he? His two ‘buas‘ are in the BJP. Whose son is he? Whose son is the Chief Minister of Karnataka? If he doesn’t have a family, what can I do?” Mr Yadav added.
In the seven-phase elections that will end on Monday, PM Modi and the BJP have tried to paint the former Chief Minister as an ineffective administrator helped mainly by the fact that he is the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, founder of the Samajwadi Party and a former Chief Minister himself.
Responding to the BJP’s second key charge of going soft on crime, Akhilesh Yadav said, “If you look at the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) statistics, the maximum number of unsafe, unprotected women are in UP, the maximum fake encounters are in UP. If an IPS officer is missing in action, it is in UP. A businessman in Gorakhpur, which is the Chief Minster’s constituency, is killed because of extortion. Custodial deaths are the highest. So, what law and order are they talking about?”
“The same day that the Prime Minister was talking about rampant crime and kidnappings of the past in UP, a child was kidnapped in Agra. The businessman father could not pay Rs 25 lakh as ransom, and two days later his child was killed,” he said.
Exuding confidence about emerging victorious when results are announced on March 10, the Samajwadi Party chief said, “This time there’s more enthusiasm and energy… This is the first election where I am seeing people coming of their own will. We want change, but more than us, these people want change.”