With Akhilesh Yadav at war with his uncle Shivpal Yadav, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today took a dig at him, saying the Chief Minister was trying to change the image of his government by “replacing tyres of his damaged cycle” but it was too late.
Making speeches during his yatra here with an eye on next year’s Assembly polls, Gandhi said Akhilesh cannot accomplish much in the remaining few months.
“Akhilesh Yadav is trying to change the image of his government. He is trying to replace tyres of his damaged cycle,” the Congress leader said, in an apparent referrece to the SP’s election symbol cycle and removal of tainted ministers from cabinet by Akhilesh.
“But he should realize it is too late. Four-and-a-half years have been wasted,” he added.
Akhilesh recently removed the state’s Chief Secretary, who was considered close to his uncle Shivpal Yadav, on charges of corruption, leading to chain of unpleasant developments in the ruling family clan.
Contending that Akhilesh government had performed badly, he said, “here one does not need to worry while touching a damaged electricity cable since no current flows through these.”
The Congress leader also targeted the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of having “betrayed” people on the promises made during elections and providing benefits to big businessmen while ignoring the needs of farmers and jobless youths.
Gandhi said the Modi government has waived loans to the tune of Rs 1.1 lakh crore of big business houses.
“When we were in power, the Manmohan Singh government had waived Rs 74,000 crore for debt-ridden farmers. This reflects our prirorities as well as those of the ruling BJP,” he said.
“The current regime appears unconcerned about the problem of unemployment. It must be noted that the annual budgetary outlay by this government for the employment generation scheme is about Rs 35,000 crore, which is just a quarter of the amount that businesspersons have been exempted from paying towards loans,” the Congress leader said.
Raising his recently coined slogan, he said, “janta trast, Modi mast” (the people are in distress while Modi is making merry).
Taking on ruling Samajwadi Party chief, Gandhi wondered “why Mulayam Singh Yadav maintains a studied silence whenever the opposition parties launch an attack against the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre”.
He said Congress, along with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Lalu’s RJD and Mulayam had at one point of time decided to jointly fight communal forces represented by the BJP.
“But just ahead of the crucial Bihar assembly polls held last year, the SP walked out of the alliance, apparently in a bid to benefit the BJP,” he said, adding “Though both parties may keep pretending to be locked in an ideological fight.
Taking a dig at BSP without naming the party or its supremo Mayawati, Gandhi said, “the people of UP had driven away the elephant when it had run amok. Now is the time to do the same to the cycle. The upcoming assembly polls are crucial. Things have remained stagnant ever since Congress was voted out of power 27 years ago”.
According to UPCC spokesman Kishore Varshney, who travelled with Gandhi and senior leaders like Salman Khurshid, Pramod Tiwari and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, “the party vice president emotionally recalled his roots in the city as he delivered speeches at various places and remarked that he felt like his home while he was taking a walk inside the Swaraj Bhavan this morning, before stepping out of the roadshow.
His roadshow was marked by halts at points like the Allahabad University and Bal Bharati school, where he spoke in presence of young men and women.
He also paid tributes at statues of luminaries erected across the city. These included, besides Congress stalwarts like Nehru and Gandhi, revolutionary freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad, academician and one of the founders of the Hindu Mahasabha Madan Mohan Malaviya and H N Bahuguna – a veteran Congressman who had turned against the party in the twilight years of his life.
Gandhi also spent a considerable amount of time at the historic “neem” tree in Chowk area from which more than a hundred freedom fighters were hanged to death by the British in its bid to crush the Revolt of 1857.
He also paid a visit to the Dargah of a Sufi mystic in Khuldabad locality, where he laid a wreath, before proceeding to the city’s western part, from where his cavalcade left for the neighboring district of Kaushambi.
This was the first visit of Gandhi to the city since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Local leaders of the Congress claim that the party may hold a major function at the Anand Bhavan – Swaraj Bhavan complex in November this year, when the birth anniversaries of Nehru and Indira Gandhi fall, in which other members of Nehru-Gandhi family may take part in a bid to intensify the campaign for the upcoming assembly polls.