Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has doubled down on his remarks on Pakistan’s founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah, days after the BJP criticised him severely for putting Mr Jinnah and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel inside the same bracket. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had called the remarks as coming from a man with a “Talibani mindset”.
At an election campaign in UP’s Hardoi on October 31, Mr Yadav had praised the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Sardar Patel on his 146th birth anniversary. Then he added, “Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Jinnah studied at the same institute and became barristers. They became barristers and they fought for India’s freedom. They never backed away from any struggle”.
With months to go for the UP elections, the remark on the founder of Pakistan triggered a huge political controversy, with the BJP leadership and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi roasting the Samajwadi Party chief.
Today, when reporters asked Mr Yadav at an event about the controversy, he replied, “Why should I say the context? I would say read the books again.”
His comment again drew a sharp response from UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh, who tweeted in Hindi, “The love for Jinnah still remains intact. Akhilesh Yadav ji please tell which history books have to be read – the Indian or the Pakistani.”
Mr Singh had said glorifying Mr Jinnah will prove costly to the Samajwadi Party chief, as the country still considers Mr Jinnah a “villain”.
The BJP has always accused the Samajwadi Party – which has support among the Muslims and Yadavs – of Muslim appeasement. At one point, party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav was dubbed “Maulana Mulayam”.
Earlier, Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP after writing a book that allegedly glorified the Pakistan founder. Party patriarch LK Advani’s praises for Mr Jinnah during his visit to Pakistan in 2005 had also miffed the BJP.
Mr Yadav was in Lucknow today to inaugurate an office of his party’s ally Janvadi Party (Socialist).