Lucknow: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Saturday hit out at former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Azamgarh, the latter’s Lok Sabha constituency, as he addressed a public rally at the foundation-stone-laying ceremony for a state university.
He primarily tore into Yadav for his 31 October statement on Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, where he equated the ‘Father of Pakistan’ with Indian freedom fighters as he spoke about their fight for India’s Independence.
“As election season is approaching, Akhilesh Yadav is seeing greatness in Muhammad Ali Jinnah. There are so many people from the minority community here, is there anyone here who sees greatness in Jinnah?” Shah said.
Shah added that the BJP government “brought in JAM — ‘J’ for Jan Dhan account, ‘A’ for Aadhaar, ‘M’ for mobile phones”. “Now, the SP also says they brought a JAM, which is, ‘J’ for Jinnah, ‘A’ for Azam Khan and M for Mukhtar (Ansari),” he said. “You tell me, do you want our ‘JAM’ or the Samajwadi Party’s?”
Azam Khan is a senior, controversial SP leader who has represented the Azamgarh assembly seat for multiple terms and is currently in jail for alleged money laundering. Ansari is a five-term MLA who is also in prison currently, and faces over 50 cases, including alleged murder and abduction. He merged his party into the SP in 2016, before returning to the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Shah also lauded the state’s Yogi Adityanath government for making Purvanchal “machhar aur mafia mukt” or free of “mosquitoes and mafia”, with its “crackdown” on dengue and criminal elements.
“East UP districts in the vicinity of Gorakhpur suffered from deadly Japanese encephalitis due to apathy of previous governments towards sanitation. Yogi ended both the problems while executing all schemes and programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi promptly,” he added, referring to the annual encephalitis outbreaks in this region.
He then made a pitch for voters to elect the BJP from the five assembly segments in Azamgarh. “I have said earlier that we never get enough Vidhan Sabha seats in Azamgarh but ab bahut ho gaya (now enough is enough). I am asking you to give all Vidhan Sabha seats here to the BJP so that Yogi Adityanath can be made the Chief Minister again.”
Yogi pitches for renaming Azamgarh
In his address, Adityanath referred to a “demand to rename Azamgarh to Aryamgarh”. “The new state university will ensure Azamgarh will definitely become Aryamgarh,” he added.
“Azamgarh may have given two former chief ministers or sent them to the Lok Sabha but, because of them, the identity of Azamgarh has always been lowered. Before 2014, a person from Azamgarh had problems even getting a hotel room anywhere in the country… such was the identity crisis,” he said.
The new state university will be named after Maharaja Suheldev, who defeated the invading army of Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud, a nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni, in the 11th century.
UP is headed for assembly elections early next year.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)