Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘puncture’ barb at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has brought down the curtains on the recent bonhomie between the two leaders, as Gandhi took a dig at Akhilesh saying that ‘there was hardly time left to get the `cycle’ (SP symbol) repaired’.
“After four years, they are trying to repair their bicycle, but it won’t help them. Akhilesh has tried to throw one of the wheels of the SP’s cycle,” he commented, while upping his ante against the ruling SP.
This statement was made at a rally in Mirzapur where Rahul also commented, “You had brought the ‘cycle’ but it could not run properly for four years-and-a-half and in the present scenario, it seems to be falling apart six months before its tenure.”
Rahul’s obvious reference was to the internal turmoil within the SP first family that erupted in the last couple of days with Akhilesh being removed from state presidentship and replaced by his uncle Shivpal and in retaliation, the Chief Minister divesting his uncle of all important portfolios on Tuesday.
Further attacking the Akhilesh for his cycle track project, Rahul hit out saying that it only benefited the contractors, as no cycle could ply on these tracks. “The Congress will change the entire development scenario of the country once it comes to power in UP,” he stated.
Rahul’s comments came days after Akhilesh sacked ministers Gayatri Prasad Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh for alleged corruption. “The state government should have removed the corrupt ministers much earlier. Akhilesh wants to repair the cycle when the Assembly election is only a few months away. But the fact is that the cycle has got punctured in the state,” Rahul said.
Rahul attended a Khaat Sabha at Bihasara hamlet where, too, farmers walked away with the khaat (cot) and mooda (local stool) despite direction from senior Congress leaders not to do so. Party strategists are disappointed over the behaviour of people. “Repeated appeals were made from the dais after Rahul’s meeting but it didn’t stop farmers from carrying home the cots they had sat on.
“This sends the message that people have come only for those khaats. This is hurting us politically,” a senior Congress leader said.
This first happened in Deoria on September 6 where people literally looted `khaat’ and walked away with whatever they can manage. Red-faced Congress leaders tried to save face by equating the incident with poverty, but it failed to cut much ice.
The same cots were supposed to be taken to Rahul’s next meeting, part of the 40 such interactions the Congress has planned in the state where polls are due early next year.