Samajwadi Party workers took to the streets on Monday in protest against Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s comments against party chief Mulayam Singh at a function in Gonda. Mr. Verma had alleged that Mr. Singh had links with terrorists.
Samajwadi Party workers burnt effigies of the Union Minister demanding his dismissal. Protests were held in Lucknow, Azamgarh and Mr. Verma’s parliamentary constituency, Gonda. Samajwadi Party workers in Gonda led by Minister of State for Basic Education Vinod Kumar alias Pandit Singh threatened to prevent the Steel Minister’s entry into his constituency. In Lucknow, Mr. Verma’s effigy was burnt near the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee office. The city unit of the SP has decided to hold a massive protest on Friday.
Spokesperson of the party’s State unit Rajendra Chaudhary attacked the Congress high command for its silence on the issue. Mr. Chaudhary wondered why the Congress leadership had not sought the Union Minister’s resignation.
Mr. Verma had made the controversial comment at a function in Gonda on Saturday. Even as angry Samajwadi Party workers slammed the Union Minister, Mr. Singh, addressing the “Ijlaas-e-Aam” (convention) of Jamiat-ul-Ulema’s State unit in Lucknow on Sunday, said he was not perturbed if his name was linked to terrorists for being close to Muslims. He reiterated that he would not abandon the cause of the Muslims.
Sources in the Samajwadi Party said that Mr. Verma is contemplating changing his constituency for next year’s Lok Sabha election. The Minister, they claim, fears that the going this time round could be tough in Gonda district, as the Samajwadi Party has fielded Kirti Vardhan Singh. A former MP and a scion of the Mankapur family, Mr. Vardhan is the son of U.P. Agriculture Minister Anand Singh. The Thakur factor in the local politics of Gonda is quite dominant and the three Ministers from the district in the Akhilesh Yadav government are Thakurs — Anand Singh, Vinod Kumar alias Pandit Singh and Yogesh Pratap Singh. Pandit Singh was sacked as a Minister in October last year for his alleged involvement in the abduction of Gonda Chief Medical Officer, but was re-inducted into the Ministry recently.
When in the Samajwadi Party, Mr. Verma had been elected thrice to the Lok Sabha from Kaiserganj. But after he quit the party in 2007 and joined the Congress, he shifted to Gonda and was elected in 2009 on the strength of the Backward (Kurmis) and Muslim support.