Priyanka Gandhi’s visit to Azamgarh on Wednesday embarrassed the Samajwadi Party since Akhilesh Yadav is yet to call on the victims of police brutality in his parliamentary constituency. With the Congress leader visiting homes of the victims, collecting evidence against the police and having submitted a emphatic complaint with evidence to the National Human Rights Commission, the indifference of SP leaders is seen as a sharp contrast.
“Akhilesh should have gone and met the victims and people. He is local MP and people voted for him. Instead, Priyanka Gandhi has been meeting the victims and their families,” said a SP supporter. In Lucknow a mid-level SP leader conceded, “ Politics is indeed all about public perception and while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has succeeded in sending out the message that she cares, we have missed the opportunity,”.
This leader confirmed that Samajwadi Party national president Akhilesh Yadav has been at the receiving end of his constituents, who are complaining about his long absence from the constituency. . Posters have come up in Azamgarh about their missing MP (`Lapata MP’ or absconding MP). irate people have been asking where the SP leader was when people were protesting against the CAA and after Uttar Pradesh Police cracked down on the protestors.
On February 5, the Azamgarh police had booked 135 people for sedition naming 30 of them in FIRs for protesting against the CAA. Besides, 20 people were arrested, including an Ulema Council leader.
In this background Priyanka Gandhi went to Azamgarh and interacted with protesters holding a demonstration against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). “This is a fight to save the country, our democracy, our Constitution and our traditions. We will not back out from our fight. I am honoured to be a part of this,” she declared in Azamgarh
“You all have to stand up because all the laws which they are planning to bring in are not against one community but against the entire Constitution,” she said amid slogan shouting by the crowd.
It is not only Azamgarh, Priyanka Gandhi had earlier visited Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Lucknow and Varanasi to meet anti-CAA protesters and their families. In sharp contrast Akhilesh Yadav had sent party delegations to visit the families with cheques of Rs five lakh as compensation.
“While Priyanka Gandhi is active and working on the ground, Akhilesh Yadav is issuing statements from his office. He is not ready to work at the grassroots. This will hurt the party,” a senior SP leader and MLA conceded.
The SP contested the 2017 Assembly polls in alliance with Congress and Priyanka had negotiated seat-sharing with Akhilesh. Ignoring the objections by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP chief had left over 107 seats for the Congress. The alliance boomeranged. They parted ways and contested the Lok Sabha election separately.
The SP law maker said that ‘politics needs personal touch. Look at BJP which has started pro-CAA campaign at the block level and the Congress top leader criss-crossing the state and we are doing nothing.’
But the SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary dismissed such talk. “It was a futile exercise by Priyanka Gandhi. She drew a blank during her visit as people are aware of the designs of the Congress and BJP. If she is so concerned about people’s welfare, she should visit the Congress-ruled Rajasthan where close to 100 children died in a government hospital in Kota,’’ he asserted.