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Yogi Adityanath returns to communal polarisation after campaign ban

He called all Opposition candidates in Sambhal the children of Babar

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 20.04.19, 8:21 AM
  • Updated 20.04.19, 8:21 AM
  • 2 mins read
Adityanath feeds a cow in Varanasi on Thursday. (PTI)

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath said on Friday that he had ended the previous government’s “discrimination” against smashaan in favour of kabristaan, returning to his practice of communal polarisation as soon as the three-day campaign ban imposed on him by the Election Commission for spewing religious hatred ended.

“The previous Samajwadi Party government used to give money for the construction of walls of kabristaan (burial grounds) by curtailing the funds for smashaan (crematoriums). I changed this after coming to power. I said this discrimination must be stopped,” the BJP’s saffron-robed Hindutva mascot told a rally at the Ramlila ground in Sambhal town, 400km northwest of Lucknow.

Adityanath is, however, not the first politician to inject the smashaan-kabristaan narrative into the electoral discourse. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had at a campaign rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur on February 19, 2017, said: “If a kabristaan is built in a village, then a smashaan should also be constructed there.”

On Friday, Adityanath, whose three-day ban on campaigning for communally “highly provocative” remarks about a “green virus” and “Bajrangbali” and “Ali” ended on Thursday, sought votes for the BJP candidate for the Sambhal Lok Sabha seat in the name of “Modiji’s nationalism”. Over 35 per cent of the electorate of Sambhal, which votes on April 23, are Muslims.

The chief minister called “Babar ki aulad (children of Babar) the Opposition candidates for the seat.

Adityanath claimed that some Opposition leaders had “confessed” to him that they were “Babar ki aulad”.

“Will you vote for such anti-nationals?” he asked the crowd, which responded with a “no”.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded Shafiqur Rahman Barq from Sambhal, while the Congress has nominated Fazle Masood. The BJP’s Parmeshwar Lal Saini is up against them.

Without naming Azam Khan, the Muslim face of the Samajwadi Party and MLA of neighbouring Rampur who has been facing flak for his intemperate comments against the BJP’s Jaya Prada, Adityanath accused him of insulting B.R. Ambedkar.

“SP ka ek jeev Rampur mein rahta hai jo Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar ka apmaan karta hai (There is an SP element in Rampur who insults Ambedkar),” Adityanath said.

“But now the situation is such that Mayawati is seeking votes for him,” he added, referring to the SP-BSP alliance. BSP chief Mayawati, a Dalit icon, says that she follows in the footsteps of Ambedkar.

Adityanath claimed that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had once said that the Muslims had the first right over natural resources, and asserted that BJP governments didn’t believe in such a theory.

The Congress has clarified that Singh had said at a meeting of the National Development Council in 2006 that the government was supposed to devise innovative ways to ensure that the minorities, particularly the Muslims, are “empowered to share equitable fruits of development”.

Adityanath appealed to the voters to “ensure that the saffron flag (of the BJP) is never lowered” and claimed that he had never sought votes in the name of religion.

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