‘UP ke Ladke’ to ‘Rivals Yet Allies’: The Complicated Akhilesh-RaGa Affair Amid New Caste Census Jibe – News18

Last Updated: November 14, 2023, 11:21 IST

Akhilesh Yadav has been taking potshots at Congress following a dispute over seat-sharing in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. (File photo: AFP)

Akhilesh Yadav has been taking potshots at Congress following a dispute over seat-sharing in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. (File photo: AFP)

For the unversed, Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi had fought the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections together. However, their tie-up was a disaster as Congress won just seven seats and SP also collapsed.

Tensions between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, the two key members of the opposition INDIA bloc, have been on the rise lately. After hoardings in Lucknow declared Akhilesh Yadav “future prime minister”, the SP chief minister took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi this time.

Addressing a rally in Bahoriband in Madhya Pradesh’s Katni district, Yadav taunted the Congress and said the party’s demand for a caste census is a “miracle”.

Taking a swipe at Gandhi’s recent “X-ray” comment, Yadav sarcastically asked “why X-ray when there is availability of new technology like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scan”.

“The biggest miracle is the Congress is also talking about caste census. Those who are talking about X-rays are the same people who stopped the caste census after Independence,” Yadav said.

Akhilesh Yadav’s comments came after Gandhi, at an election rally in Telangana, said the biggest issue in the country is with regard to caste census and termed it an “X-ray” that will throw light on the condition of Dalits, tribals and OBCs, and added it will also determine how the country’s funds are being distributed.

“The castes can be counted in three months. All the data is available. All are having Aadhaar cards. Why will it take time,” he asked. The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes should be implemented in Madhya Pradesh.

He said the Samajwadi Party had built roads on which planes could land in emergency when it was in power in UP. “Has the double engine government (BJP rule in MP and at the Centre) made any such road here,” he asked the gathering.

Yadav has been taking potshots at one-time ally Congress following a dispute over seat-sharing in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. Last week, he claimed the Congress does not want to ally with the Samajwadi Party and renewed calls for a third front called ‘PDA’ focused on Dalits and backward classes.

For the unversed, Yadav and Gandhi had fought the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections together. They went around using taglines like “apne UP ke ladke” and “UP ko pasand hai yeh saath“.

This was to stress home the point that both Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi belong to the state as against the “outsiders” Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo leading the BJP campaign. It was modelled on the successful “Bihari vs Bahari” plank run by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav in the then-concluded Bihar polls.

Prashant Kishor, who was the mastermind behind the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Mahagatbandhan’s campaign, was also believed to be the architect of the new “Apne Ladke vs Bahri Modi” strategy.

Akhilesh Yadav was so convinced by the Congress-SP tie up that he went ahead and gave over 100 seats out of the 400-odd in the state to the Congress.

The result, however, was a disaster. Congress won just seven seats and Samajwadi Party (SP) also collapsed, leading to a historic win for the BJP riding on the Narendra Modi wave.