Modi, Mayawati and Mulayam reach out to Dalits, Muslims

Western Uttar Pradesh saw hectic campaigning on Sunday with three big leaders — BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh — addressing rallies in Aligarh and Bijnore, Meerut and Muzaffarnagar respectively.

Muslims and Dalits remained the central topic of all speeches with Mr. Modi promising them “development and prosperity that the communities had never seen before,” and the SP and the BSP warning them against supporting “communal forces.”

Playing to the Muslim gallery at meetings in Bijnore and Aligarh, Mr. Modi cited the Gujarat model for their development. “Central government figures show that only 14 per cent urban Muslims in Gujarat are poor while the figures for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are 50 and 69 per cent respectively,” Mr. Modi said. Which party had worked more for the minority community, he asked.

Taking a dig at the Congress, the BJP leader said the party had two soldiers in Uttar Pradesh — the SP and the BSP. “These two and the Congress are playing WWF-like [World Wrestling Federation] fights as seen on TV. They indulge in fights in Lucknow, but come together to grab power in Delhi.” He said the three parties were misleading the country and it was up to the people to put an end to their “fixed” matches and give the BJP a chance to provide real governance.

Asking the people to ensure a strong majority for the BJP, Mr. Modi urged them to give at least 300 seats to NDA candidates. “If the teacher is weak, even kids don’t like to go to school. So make sure that the country gets a strong government and not a weak one,” he said.

Cautioning Muslims and Dalits against backing Mr. Modi, Ms. Mayawati accused the BJP of deceiving them for votes and forgetting them after the polls.

Mayawati’s warning

Addressing a rally at Bani Sarai near Meerut, Ms. Mayawati said: “You [voters] should vote for the BSP if Narendra Modi and his communal brigade are to be stopped from usurping power at the Centre.”

“The country will see communal flare-ups if Mr. Modi came to power. Dalits and Muslims should vote for the BSP and not the Congress or the SP, as both of them are as communal and dangerous as the saffron brigade is,” she said, seeking support for BSP nominee Haji Shahid Akhlaq.

Addressing a rally in Muzaffarnagar, Mr. Singh urged the people to vote for the SP as no big party was going to get a majority and the third front was likely to form the government at the Centre. “You must enable the SP to emerge as the largest party in the third front so that you have your man as Prime Minister,” Mr. Singh said, adding that he would ensure rapid development of the backward areas of Uttar Pradesh if he got the post.

The SP leader, who was visiting Muzaffarnagar for the first time after the riots, claimed that a whopping Rs. 115-crore assistance was given to Muzaffarnagar riot victims unlike in Gujarat where “not a single rupee was spent by Mr. Modi for the 2002 riot victims.”

Mr. Singh claimed that the Gujarat Chief Minister was spreading lies about rapid development in his State. “The poor, including Dalits and Muslims, had become poorer and the rich had become richer under Mr. Modi’s rule in Gujarat,” he said, cautioning people against the dangers of voting for the BJP led by Mr. Modi.