Nephew stands in for BSP chief

Taking charge:SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP leaders Akash Anand and S.C. Mishra, and RLD chief Ajit Singh in Agra.PTI  

With BSP supremo Mayawati out of campaigning for 48 hours, for violating the election code, the party made a statement in the “capital of Dalits” by putting her nephew Akash Anand on the centre stage.

Accompanying party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, Mr. Anand appealed to voters to vote for the mahagathbandan candidates in Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Mathura. “Their victory will be a befitting reply to the gag order,” he said to loud cheer.

Mr. Mishra described the gag order as “anti-Dalit” and “unconstitutional”. He said the EC did not look at the speech in its entirety where “ Behenji was appealing to the sarvajan (people) not to allow their vote to be divided on the basis of caste and religion.”

Instead, he said, they chose to focus on a minor portion of the speech. “The EC didn’t take note of how the Prime Minister and Amit Shah are dividing people in the name of religion,” he alleged.

He said that according to the Jammu & Kashmir Governor, the Pulwama attack was because of intelligence failure.

“Instead of taking responsibility for the failure, the Prime Minister is shedding crocodile tears for the martyrs.”

Coming down heavily on the EC, Mr. Yadav said the “voice of the poor can’t be throttled and when it will speak through machines (EVMs), our rivals will be silenced.”

He said Ms. Mayawati lived in the hearts of the masses and nobody could take her out from there.

Mr. Singh said the so-called 56-inch chest of Mr. Modi did not have a heart with even a single inch of space for the minorities and the dispossessed. “He is the chowkidar of the 1% rich of the country.”

He appealed to the crowd not to watch television till the last phase of voting.

“The news channels are not telling you how the crowd is receding in his rallies and increasing in mahagathbandhan rallies.”

In the rural belt, the potato farmers are in distress. Mr. Yadav raised their concern during his speech. “The farmers didn’t get the right price of their crop and it rotted in cold storage.” He called it an impact of notebandi (demonetisation), which could only be avenged by votebandi (by not voting for the BJP). Referring to the footwear industry, Mr. Yadav said that the BJP was doing “politics over animals and brought religion even in the occupation of people.”

Many see Mr. Anand as the successor of Ms. Mayawati. Naresh Gautam, BSP Coordinator, western Uttar Pradesh, said these are early days but there is a “wave of happiness” in the party.