Seeking to send a message of unity in the ruling Samajwadi Party which has been battling a bitter power struggle, Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday flagged off chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s rath yatra in the presence of state SP chief Shivpal Yadav in Lucknow.
Ending days of suspense on whether he will be present or not, the SP patriarch arrived at La Martinere grounds – the flag off venue – soon after Akhilesh reached there. Shivpal also joined them moments later. Mulayam took a seat on the stage and was flanked by Shivpal on one side and Akhilesh on the other to send a message that the party was united ahead of the upcoming UP Assemly elections barely a few months away.
“Akhilesh ko hum shubhkamna detey hain (I wish him well),” Shivpal said, adding the “vikas sey vijay ki aur yatra” will send a message of unity across the state and halt BJP in its tracks.
“Our target is to prevent BJP from coming to power in the state in the crucial 2017 elections,” he said.
The enthusiasm among the youth leaders was palpable right since early morning with hordes of young party workers donning red cap making a bee line to the venue, the very place where Akhilesh took oath as chief minister in 2012.
As some youths jostled to reach the venue, Shivpal advised them to calm down. “Josh mein hosh na kho dein (don’t lose your cool in enthusiasm),” he said.
Ahead of the flag off event, Ramgopal Yadav’s son and MP Akshay Yadav said, “People will vote for Akhilesh. We will contest in his name and win.”
The presence of Mulayam, Shivpal and Akhilesh on one platform came days and months after bitter acrimony in the Yadav clan that saw no holds barred tit-for-tat sackings and expulsions of followers of warring camps.
Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey, SP vice president Kironmoy Nanda, Naresh Agarwal, MP Dharmendra Yadav and ministers Rajendra Chowdhury, Manoj Kumar Pandey, Narendra Verma, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Balram Yadav, Parasnath Yadav, Vinod Kumar alias Pandit Singh, Rammurti Verma, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya and Arvind Singh Gope besides a number of sacked youth leaders were present.
Before embarking on the highly-publicised rath yatra to highlight the development works undertaken by him during the last over four years, the 43-year-old chief minister said the “tradition” of yatras was started in the state by ‘netaji’ and he was taking it out for the third time.
“I want to thank youths for this historic event. Netaji had taken out yatra and I am going on for the yatra of the third time. From this yatra, we appeal to people to vote in favour of our party,” he said.
Mentioning the delay in the yatra by about a month, Akhilesh said, “We had to take out the yatra on 3 October, but due to certain circumstances, we could not do it. Now, we will try to reach maximum people through the yatra.”
“Elections are round the corner and there will be comparison of works done by government. SP government has continuously focused on development without discrimination on basis of caste. This election is decisive in changing politics of the country and SP will form government again in 2017. In future (after 2017) also, only SP and its socialist ideology can bring a change in the country,” the CM said.
Highlighting his government’s works, Akhilesh said his government tried to strike a “balance” in development.
“While we constructed metro, we also thought of cycle. We made expressway but also connected district headquarters by roads…Our schemes of Samajwadi Pension, laptop distribution and Lohia Awas Yojana have benefited people,” he said.
On recent controversy within the party and family, Akhilesh said, “Due to some conspiracies we were bit rattled up, but in the days to come we will be able to form government again.”
Flagging off the bright red Mercedes Benz ‘rath’, Mulayam advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit families of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the country.
“As the defence minister, I used to visit families of martyr soldiers. I want our PM to visit their families. I salute their families and want to say that they might be having grief but they should be proud that their son died while securing our borders,” he said.
On the situation on borders, Mulayam said, “We don’t want any Indo-Pak war or soldiers sacrificing lives on border, there should be a via media solution.”
“Ram Manohar Lohia had given a message of humanity at international level and SP believes in it,” he said.
Mentioning difference of opinion over naming the yatra, Mulayam said, “I had suggested Akhilesh to put ‘Vijay’ (victory) first and ‘Vikas’ after it. But he did not do that.
Addressing slogan-shouting youths, Mulayam said, “Slogans like Bhaiya jeevan tere naam” (life is for you brother) will not work and you have to “struggle”.
“The path of samajwad is difficult…I have faced lathis in agitations. This samajwadi movement is made after sacrifices. SP is party of sacrifice and struggle. I know when there is lathicharge, every one runs away and only 4-5 persons stay back,” he said advising youths.
“I congratulate Akhilesh for the yatra and wish him all success,” he said.
Earlier, SP state president Shivpal, who arrived with brother Mulayam in the event, said he wanted to “congratulate” Akhilesh for the yatra “wishing it success”.
“The yatra is being taken out under the leadership of Akhilesh. It will give a message to the entire UP and popularise works being done by our government and ideologies of SP,” he said.
The “target” of the party is to form government again in 2017, Shivpal said, adding, “We want to ensure that BJP should not form government and SP gets absolute majority once again.”
“I want to appeal and request all of you to join silver jubilee celebrations of the party on November 5,” Shivpal said, asking youths to participate with full enthusiasm.
(With inputs from PTI)