Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav appears to be quite cut up with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi over the latter’s surprise visit to the relief camps for victims of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Western Uttar Pradesh.
Mulayam expressed his chagrin at a meeting of party workers in Lucknow by not only accusing Rahul of sneaking into the relief camps “like a thief”, but also blamed him and the Congress party for “inciting” those living in the camps.
The SP chief, whose chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav had drawn much flak on account of poor handling of law and order in the state, went to the extent of alleging, “Those living in relief camps now were not riot victims.” According to him, “The people who were continuing to stay in relief camps were not those who had suffered during the riots; apparently they just want to remain there until the Lok Sabha elections.”
Without naming Rahul, he told party workers, “A big Congress leader sneaked into these relief camps like a thief at night; and what was worse that while he expressed satisfaction with everything in the camps, he went about criticising everything once he was out of the camps”.
Rahul Gandhi, who visited the relief camps unannounced last week, had expressed his disillusionment with the state of affairs in the relief camps. After meeting the inmates at the camps, he told mediapersons, “I hope the young UP chief minister would take suitable steps to improve the pathetic conditions in the camps.”
Significantly, reacting to Rahul’s statement, Akhilesh Yadav had declared that corrective action would follow. However, Mulayam was not amused by Rahul’s suggestions.
Political analysts were of the view that it was the race for the Muslim vote between SP and the Congress that had provoked Mulayam.
Evidently, the Muslim vote was quite crucial to both Congress as well as SP. And if it was the suffering of Muslims in the relief camps that had prompted Rahul to visit them, it was narration of their plight by the camp inmates that angered Mulayam.
Sure enough Mulayam was aware of disillusionment of Muslims with the SP government that had failed to provide them protection during the riots in which Muslims largely remained at the receiving end.
And at a time when Mulayam and the SP machinery were trying to heal the wounds of Muslims to ensure their support at the time of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul’s visit seemed like a spanner in the works.
Mulayam’s desperation for the Muslim vote was natural since that alone could help him to fulfill his aspiration of becoming prime minister in the event that both Congress of BJP failed to get the desired numbers.
In fact, Mulayam was frank enough to blurt out his long cherished desire before his party workers at a meeting on Monday itself, “You all have made Akhilesh chief minister, but I also have to do something -- make me PM”.
Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav