Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by asking Amitabh Bachchan to stop promoting “donkeys of Gujarat” — a sarcastic reference to a tourism promo on wild asses that features the superstar.
The remarks amid the hotly contested and bitterly fought Uttar Pradesh elections came a day after Modi told a rally that the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state was appeasing Muslims and said “if a village has a qabristan (graveyard), it should also have a shamshaan ghat (cremation ground)”.
Yadav responded to the Prime Minister at a rally in Rae Bareli, urging Modi to stop promoting donkeys and “focus on more important things”.
“There’s an ad which shows donkeys. I appeal to the century’s biggest star that he should stop promoting donkeys of Gujarat,” the Chief Minister said, without naming Amitabh.
“Have you ever heard of campaigning for donkeys? Gujarat’s people are doing campaigns for donkeys. Then they accuse me of working only for qabristan,” the 44-year-old Samajwadi Party chief said.
The Bollywood megastar, the brand ambassador of the Gujarat Tourism who was once close to the Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh, has been campaigning for the wild ass sanctuary in Gujarat for years.
The remarks are the latest in the caustic campaigning for Uttar Pradesh polls – seen as the semi-final before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Modi told a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district that “no discrimination” should be made on the basis of caste or religion.
“There must be bijli (electricity) both on Eid and Holi,” said the Prime Minister.
Yadav retorted by let Modi swear on the Ganga if his government had not ensured uninterrupted power supply in Varanasi – the Hindu holy city and the Prime Minister’s parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
“You revere Ganga maiyya. Why don’t you swear on the Ganga and tell us is the Samajwadi Party government giving 24-hour electricity in Varanasi or not?”
Modi also continued with his no-holds-barred criticism at a poll rally in Jalaun of the Bundelkhand region that he said had suffered from the years of neglect by Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party governments.
He said the BJP’s fight was against SCAM that stood for the Samajwadi Party, the Congress, Akhilesh (Yadav) and Mayawati of the BSP.
“You have an opportunity in this election to throw SCAM out from Bundelkhand,” he said.
He also mocked at Mayawati’s opposition to the November 8 note ban and said the BSP actually the ‘Behenji Sampatti Party’ – calling it a personal asset of the former Chief Minister.
“Where has Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) reached today…when I announced note ban on November 8, rivals SP and BSP, who never see eye-to-eye, came together? I was amazed when I launched the war against corruption and asked for the details of black money. They came together and all including the Congress started speaking the same language.”
He said Mayawati had alleged that the government was ill-prepared with its demonetisation move but “was it the government or it were you who was not prepared”.
“Money started being deposited in banks all of a sudden and Mayawati started shouting as why is it only at election time that the account of her brother has been made public.
“You have deposited Rs 100 crore after note ban. Those who deposit wealth for themselves, can they solve your problem?” he asked.