Akhilesh Yadav demands caste census, action against SBI, LIC top brass
Akhilesh Yadav, who is in Kolkata for the SP’s national executive meet, said that after Bengal, it is UP where political workers face maximum probe by federal agencies
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday demanded a nationwide caste census before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls saying only such an exercise can show how much the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre has done for the poor and the downtrodden.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who held a two-day meet of the SP national executive in Kolkata, also targeted the BJP on the allegations of fraud levelled against the Adani Group by American firm Hindenburg Research without mentioning the name of the company.
“Caste census is the most important issue in India right now. The BJP’s slogan in the 2014 polls was Achche Din (good days). It was later changed to Sab Ka Saath Sabka Vikaas Sabka Viswas (with everyone, development for all and everyone’s confidence). Only caste census can show how much has been done for the poor and the downtrodden,” Yadav said at the end of the SP’s two-day national executive meeting in the Bengal capital.
“Parties from all corners of India want it. This is an issue directly related to people’s struggle for rights. Delivering social justice is impossible without it. If priorities are not set then the dreams of B R Ambedkar will never be met,” Yadav said and took a swipe at the Congress.
“When Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minster, Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), Sharad Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and leaders from all southern states met him and Sonia Gandhi. They said a caste census must be held since a general census was going on at that time. P Chidambaram assured that it would be done but the Congress betrayed us,” said Akhilesh.
“I am hopeful that the Centre will conduct a caste census. The BJP is trying to run away from the main spirit of the Mandal Commission, which is reservation. The BJP is trying to put an end to the competition between upper and lower castes,” he added.
Without naming the Adani Group, Yadav said: “The crisis the nation faces is beyond imagination. I will give an example. A few years ago, a department of the Uttar Pradesh government decided to invest its employees’ provident fund money into a private company, hoping to make a huge profit. The company collapsed in two years. The government officers who invested the money faced CBI and Income Tax probe and were jailed.”
“BJP says its economic policies are so good that a specific industrialist is now the world’s second richest person. The BJP has campaigned around India saying by the time the 2024 Lok Sabha polls take place, this man will be the world’s richest person. Now you can see where this industrialist has landed,” Yadav added.
“If those officials in UP were sent to jail by the state’s BJP government, shouldn’t the BJP send top officials of the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to jail too for investing in this industrialist’s company?” he said.
Yadav also questioned the Centre’s version of threat perception at India’s borders.
“The borders of our country are not safe. The news we are getting indicates that we are in danger but the BJP is not telling the truth to the people,” he said.
Yadav arrived in Kolkata on Friday on a three-day visit to hold his party’s national executive meet. Choosing Bengal - where the SP has no electoral presence - as the meeting’s location was seen by political observers as a significant move because the SP was in power in UP when it held the last meet in Kolkata in 2013. It lost two state polls since then.
Hours after Yadav’s arrival, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee officially declared the Congress her political enemy in West Bengal and said the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will try to come to an understanding with regional forces in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections since it cannot have an electoral alliance with the Congress at the national level.
Yadav met Banerjee on Friday evening and told media that the SP, too, will maintain equal distance from the Congress and the BJP.
“At the two-day national executive meet we decided that the SP and its allies in UP will defeat the BJP in all 80 seats in the Lok Sabha polls. There is no formula. The only formula is that the BJP has to be defeated,” Yadav said on Sunday.
“The Lok Sabha election will be fought in many issues. Some issues will be visible while some will remain unseen,” he quipped.
Asked whether the Congress will be out of the opposition alliance, Akhilesh said: “Right now all regional parties and some local parties are trying to form a front. Mamata Banerjee is engaged in an exercise. Similar efforts are being made by the chief ministers of Telengana and Bihar. But we are regional parties. The Congress is a national party. It has to decide its own role. Similarly, the Left parties have to chart their course as well.”
Yadav did not spare the Congress when he raised issue of alleged misuse of federal probe agencies by the BJP.
He said: “The election process will start in a few months. No matter what the BJP tries, people of India have understood that only those capable of defeating the BJP face probes by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Earlier it was the Congress that misused federal agencies, now the BJP is following that party. If the Congress regime could end, so can the BJP’s.”
“Those who join the BJP don’t face such probes. After Bengal, it is UP where political workers face maximum probe by federal agencies,” he said.
Referring to Amethi, Rahul Gandhi’s erstwhile Lok Sabha constituency that BJP wrested in 2019, Yadav said: “I recently visited Amethi. Our workers said they always voted for the Congress but its leaders never helped them when they faced any crisis. Before the elections we will consult our workers and take a decision.”
Yadav was asked by the Kolkata media why SP MPs are often seen taking part in demonstrations aimed at the TMC inside Parliament.
“Not all parties always come together on every issue on the floor of the House. The situation on the ground is, however, quite different. Our national vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda, who had been a minister in Bengal (during Left Front era) is an old associate of Netaji. He knows the ground reality of Bengal very well. I will seek his advice on this (alliance with the TMC) from time to time,” Yadav said.
Yadav refused to make any comment on the alleged recruitment scam that has posed a crisis for the TMC government. “The courts will deal with these cases. The state government can answer such questions,” he said.
On UP government
Without naming Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath even once, Yadav alleged that the state government is responsible for the collapse of the state’s economy and law and order.
He said: “The UP government faces the charge of death in fake police encounters and custodial deaths. Most of the notices from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are sent to the UP government. Most cases of atrocity on women take place in UP according to the National Women’s Commission. Once the fake encounters are probed, a lot of officials will be on the dock.”
He said: “India’s inflation rate has touched a dangerous level. They (BJP) talk of building a trillion-dollar economy. Can that be done if the economy of UP, the nation’s biggest state, is on the verge of a collapse?”
“UP’s BJP government has set examples of mismanagement in public works department, medical education and the power sector. The BJP promised before the last state elections that it will meet all demands of power department employees, but turned its back on them. Now the state is facing acute power crisis because the workers are on strike. Will police run the power plants?” he said.
“In 2014, when our government was in power, some BJP leaders requested me to ensure 24-hour power supply to Varansasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. I ensured that, and in return I requested more power for UP which gives India the maximum number of Lok Sabha members. It was never done.”
“The Uttar Pradesh chief minister does not want the power crisis to end. When all factories shut down these will be sold to private players. The crisis has been planned by the chief minister,” he said.
“A state, that has given India some of its prime ministers, now faces maximum unemployment and the worst law and order situation in the country,” Yadav said.