In a remark apparently meant for the Congress, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday said the national parties should support regional parties fighting the Bharatiya Janata Party in their states.
Akhilesh’s statement comes a day after Bihar deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday said the Congress is the biggest party in the Opposition but wherever regional parties are strong, they should be allowed to sit in the "driver's seat" to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections.
While answering a question on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha, the former UP chief minister said he wanted to congratulate the party for observing satyagraha.
The Congress organised a day-long 'Satyagraha' on Sunday in solidarity with Rahul Gandhi in front of Gandhi statues at all states and district headquarters to protest against his disqualification from the Lok Sabha.
When asked if his party would support the Congress’ movement, the Leader of Opposition (LoP) said the question is not whether the Samajwadi Party is sympathetic towards Rahul Gandhi, but whether the country's democracy and constitution will survive or not.
"We cannot sympathise with any party," he said, adding that the national parties should cooperate and help the parties that are fighting against the BJP at the state level.
Yadav said the national parties should not think that the regional parties have done them any harm. It is the governments at the Centre which have harmed the regional parties.
"Today CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax are targeting regional parties," he said, adding, "Be it Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), Lalu Prasad Yadav, Jayalalithaa, Stalin, KCR or Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party," all have been targeted by the parties at the Centre.
Replying to a question on the alliance, he said, "It is not our job to form an alliance. It is our job to cooperate with the alliance."
On communalism, Yadav said, "The question here is not who is communal. If the educated class of our country becomes communal and starts believing the lies as truth, then there can be no bigger threat to society and democracy than that. Today we have reached that situation."
He said the Samajwadi Party will have a cadre at every single booth of all the parliamentary constituencies in the state by June 5 and will fight the BJP strongly in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
SP National Vice President Kiranmoy Nanda told reporters that in the recent meeting of the party's national executive committee in Kolkata, a target was set to win at least 40 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Yadav claimed that the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government has made false claims and presented wrong development figures.
He said in the budget speech, the state's growth rate was pegged at 16.9 per cent and claimed that the Yogi Adityanath-led government paid Rs 200 crore to Deloitte "for converting this lie into truth."
An international professional services network headquartered in London, Deloitte is included in the world's largest accounting firm. The company provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory and legal services.
Yadav said, "Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath while celebrating the six years of his government yesterday (Saturday) said the per capita income of the state has doubled. Don't know which economist is sitting here who tells this."
Accusing the BJP government of the youth unemployment rate, Yadav said, "Every time the government is asked about the rate of unemployment. It says that the unemployment rate in the state is only 4.2 per cent. This means that you have given jobs and employment to everyone, but the truth is that a large number of youth are sitting at home after completing their studies."
Referring to Arif Khan Gurjar, a resident of Amethi district, who became famous for his friendship with a sarus crane, he said, "The government should have honoured Arif as a friend of the sarus and given him a prize. If there was a Samajwadi Party government, we would have promoted such a youth."
The Forest department has filed a case and issued a notice to Arif who rescued the bird and took care of it for a year, officials said.
The crane, which lived with Arif, accompanied him to his fields and was accepted "like a family member", was taken away by Forest department officials on March 21.