Lucknow: Hitting back at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who kickstarted his election campaign ahead of UP polls on Monday, Bahujan Samaj Party said that the people of the state were hard-working and had self-respect and were not beggars.
This was in reaction to Rahul’s question to the people of the state: “People of Uttar Pradesh are appreciated for their hard work; wherever they go in search of job...How long will you beg in Maharashtra (for work)? How long will you work as labourer in Punjab?"
“The people of UP go out and change the face of other states as they are very hard-working,” BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya countered.
On Rahul’s allegations that the state of Uttar Pradesh had made no progress under the BSP rule and that central funds had been siphoned off by the officials and the ministers, he said that the comments were “false and baseless”.
Calling Rahul “Congress` Yuvraj” the Bahujan Samaj Party leader said that his claim that the Chief Minister Mayawati had no time to go to Bundelkhand “was completely without truth”.
“The Congress Party is responsible for UP’s backwardness, poverty and unemployment,” he alleged.
The BSP leader in fact questioned Rahul asking him what he had done for the state, advising him not to indulge in “political theatrics”.
The BSP also accused the Congress, fighting a perception battle on graft, saying that “Congress has a long history of corruption”.
In a veiled challenge to the Congress, Swami Prasad Maurya said, “Even if Rahul stands on his head, the destiny of Congress is not going to change in UP.”
The scion of the Congress party, who is expected to take the party out of troubled waters in Uttar Pradesh, received a dramatic welcome when he reached his great grandfather, Jawahar Lal Nehru’s constituency Phulpur to kickstart his campaign ahead of UP polls. Some members allegedly from the Samajwadi Party carrying black flags rushed towards his helicopter as soon as it landed. They were soon overpowered by the local police and workers of the Congress party.
Congress leaders like Pramod Tiwari and Jitin Prasada also joined in the melee and kicked some of the miscreants.
Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi`s comments on migration of people from UP to other states for jobs sparked a political slugfest as BJP termed it as an "insult" to the people while Congress dismissed the criticism as reflection of Opposition`s "restlessness" over its "rise".
"This is an insult to the people of Uttar Pradesh. How many times Rahul Gandhi has gone to Maharashtra and has seen people from UP and Bihar begging there. He has hurt the sentiments of the people of UP.... I have never seen a person from UP and Bihar begging in Maharashtra," BJP spokesperson
Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The Congress alleged that the Opposition was rattled over the rise of the party in Uttar Pradesh and there was nothing objectionable in what Rahul said in Phulpur today.
"The reaction of Opposition parties to what Rahul has said proves the impact of his words. It is evident from the restlessness of the Opposition that they have now begun fearing the rise of Congress in UP," AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.
"What Rahul Gandhi said is clearly linked to the state`s self-pride (Swabhimaan). How can this be called an insult, if somebody says that people of his state should not be roaming around here and there in search of livelihood," he said.
At the same time Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena wasted no time in attacking the future chief of the Congress party. MNS chief Raj Thackeray categorically stated, “What has the Gandhi family done for the country?” And Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray alleged that they were repeatedly accused of doing regional politics but Rahul was indulging in the same. “If this is not breaking the country, then what is?” he asked.
The Smajwadi Party too criticised Gandhi’s comments. “He shouldn’t have said something so derogatory,” said its leader Azam Khan.
Earlier in the day Congress general secretary had hit at the UP government ruled by Mayawati saying that it was run by “Mafia” and that corruption was rampant in the state. He had also raked up the farmers` agitation in Bhatta Parsaul saying that police atrocities were committed there.
He had stated dramatically, “I get angry. At times I think why shouldn’t I go to Lucknow and fight your battle.”
The Congress has been out of power in UP for the last twenty-two years. The upcoming elections is going to be a litmus test for the youth leader, especially with talks of his donning the mantle of the Congress president in the near future.
The events that unfolded today are just a precursor of things to come in the UP elections. BSP, Samajwadi Party, BJP and Congress are the main players in the fray in these elections. There is no doubt that the days ahead is surely going to be filled with high-drama and allegations and counter-allegations. Yes, Uttar Pradesh is in election mode.