The situation arising out of the devastating floods in Uttar Pradesh and the death of scores of children in a state-run hospital in Gorakhpur have suddenly galvanised the opposition Samajwadi Party into action. Thrown out of power by the saffron surge which saw BJP and its allies pocketing 325 of the 403 Assembly seats earlier this year, the SP is desperately trying to regain its lost moorings, said a party insider. The party, embattled by the recent resignations of some of its MLCs and strains with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav, is going the extra mile to strike a rapport with the masses, he said.
The death of over 60 children between August 7 and August 11 in the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, allegedly due to shortage of oxygen supply, came as an opportunity for Akhilesh to directly connect to the people. He not only visited the victims’ kin, but also announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh from the party fund to the family of each deceased. The former chief minister hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government for his “failure in his home district” and constituted a team of SP leaders to visit the hospital and submit its report to corner the government over its alleged “insensitivity”.
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“The government is insensitive. Government is trying to run away from responsibilities and hence accusing the opposition of politicising the situation. The truth is being overlooked by the government, which has already said that the death was not due to oxygen shortage,” Akhilesh said. The SP has also demanded a compensation of Rs 20 lakh each for families of victims. Taking note of the serious condition arising out of floods, the SP has constituted teams in different districts to be headed by its senior leaders to remain on “ground for the needy”. Flood relief committees are being constituted in badly affected districts like Barabanki, Gonda, Siddharth Nagar, Mahrajganj, Balrampur and Bahraich to provide relief to those affected by floods.
“Our party president is sensitive towards woes of the people. He want party cadre to help people and highlight insensitivity of the BJP government, which is not addressing core issues,” party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said. “Be it lathicharge on shiksha mitra and police job seekers in Lucknow, or handling of Gorakhpur issue, the government stands thoroughly exposed before the people,” he said. The party will continue to raise the voice of people and will not tolerate “suppression” by the government, he said. Undeterred by the recent exit of five party MLCs – Sarojini Agarwal, Ashok Bajpai, Yashwant Singh, Bukkal Nawab and Ambika Chowdhury, Akhilesh has said that those who want to leave the party were “free” to do so.
“I also want to see who are with me in bad times. Those who want to leave are free (to go),” he said. Though of these five legislators, Ambika – an MLC from SP quota – has already left the party during assembly polls, the four others were close to the party chief and Akhilesh had personally visited Bukkal Nawab’s place during Eid. All the four MLCs joined the BJP, which Akhilesh said is indulging in alleged “political corruption”.