In a stinging attack on Narendra Modi, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to hoodwink Muslims by talking of apology after "having allowed their carnage" in 2002 and dismissed as "baseless propaganda" Gujarat chief minister's development claims.
Hitting back at Modi for his taunt that Mulayam could not make Uttar Pradesh as prosperous as Gujarat as the feat required "a 56-inch-chest", Mulayam raked the 2002 riots issue at a rally in Allahabad where UP minister Azam Khan asked Muslims to defeat "the mass murderer who had called you a puppy ", a reference to the remarks made by the BJP prime ministerial candidate in an interview last year.
"I would like to remind him that I had demonstrated my strength when I visited Gujarat in the aftermath of the brutal massacre of Muslims. I went there and met and consoled victims of the horrible communal riots notwithstanding Modi's threat that his administration would not be responsible if I was attacked by mobs," he said on Sunday as Modi addressed a parallel rally in Lucknow.
Describing Muslims as "a brave, sensible and trustworthy community", Yadav charged the BJP with "hoodwinking" the minority community by "sounding apologetic after having allowed their carnage" -- an obvious reference to the recent statement of BJP chief Rajnath Singh.
Firebrand party leader and cabinet minister Azam Khan also came down heavily on both the Congress and BJP, holding the former responsible for Partition, which "drove a wedge between Hindus and Muslims".
Khan said Muslims "ought to defeat the mass murderer who had called you a puppy and is now seeking your votes, realising that you may not be kings but without your blessings nobody could ever become a king either."
Mulayam also termed as "baseless propaganda" the development claims of Modi during his over a decade-long tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat.
Yadav quoted a number of sources to claim, "More than 30 per cent of women and 50 per cent of children are malnourished in Gujarat".
"Rivers of the state are among the most polluted. Daily wages given to those working in the unorganised sector are lower than that in UP. You (Modi) call this good governance and development? I call it nothing but baseless propaganda," Yadav said.
The SP chief also attacked the Congress for having "remained silent in the face of repeated transgression of the national boundaries by China" during the decade-long United Progressive Alliance rule while blaming both the Congress and the BJP for "recognising Tibet as a part of China despite the plateau's strategic importance for India".
He claimed that both the parties were "unable to find candidates of their own for the Lok Sabha elections and hence embarked upon a poaching spree" and said the return of Ram Vilas Paswan to the National Democratic Alliance fold, whose Lok Janshakti Party has been offered seven seats in Bihar, was "a manifestation of desperation" in the saffron party camp.
Earlier, Yadav's son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav claimed that his government had "accomplished in two years what previous regimes could not in full five-year-terms" and exhorted the people to "help the party win as many seats in the Lok Sabha elections as possible so that no government is formed in the Centre without our support".
Image: SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav addresses a rally in Uttar Pradesh
Photograph: Samajwadi Party/Facebook