Does Akhilesh Yadav want to continue alliance with Congress?
Lucknow: Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday on seemed to be in for continuing the alliance with Congress, which he formed for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, as he said 'ham yaaron ke yaar hain' (I am friend of friends).
On being asked to comment on the future of his party's alliance with the Congress at a press conference at the party headquarters here, he ambiguously responded, saying that as of now the party was busy with sprucing up its own machinery and added that the SP would cross the bridge when it came.
"When the elections are announced, we will discuss a host of issues like this," Yadav said, adding, "I am a 'friend of friends' (yaaron ka yaar!)."
Visibly irked when a reporter asked him the future of the 'UP ke dono ladke', the catchline of SP-Congress alliance's campaign in the UP assembly polls, he retorted by saying that he would be happy if the reporter dared to call the present Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) a 'ladke' (boy) as he was also of their age.
Lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, Akhilesh Yadav accused them of misleading the people with false hopes and dividing them along caste and religious lines.
"There was an atmosphere of lawlessness and fear under the watch of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and listed several cases where the police and the members of ruling party had allegedly committed excesses on the common people," he said.
"The BJP has mastered the art of misleading people and I am sure that having seen their reality, the people will throw them out in the 2019 General Elections," the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said.
Many atrocities were being perpetrated on women and girls and their honour and lives were not safe under the BJP government, he said.
The party also paraded the father of a minor girl who was hacked to death while returning from school.
The bereaved father alleged that he was getting threatening calls from the perpetrators and members of the BJP asking him not to rake up the matter further.
Coming from Nishad community, the man told media persons that his family had been living in perpetual fear, after which Yadav assured him that the matter would be taken up with Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik.
"I will write to him and petition him on your behalf, seeking safety and security of your family," Yadav told the man.
The former Chief Minister also called the BJP 'the biggest casteist force' and said, "When they (BJP) do it, the media says it is social engineering, demographic understanding and booth management, but when we advocate the rights of people from different castes, we are dubbed casteists."
"Now we will also fight iron with iron (lohe se loha katenge)," he said suggesting that the party would emulate the formula of caste combinations mastered by the BJP.
Many leaders from other parties, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, joined the SP in presence of Yadav, state SP president Naresh Uttam and other senior leaders.
Those who joined the party include former BSP legislator Tahir Hussain Siddiqui, former BJP legislator Bhim Prasad Nishad and hundreds of other activists.