Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently sparked a row after he accused the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh of discriminating on religious lines while providing unrestricted power supply during festivals. The PM also accused the state government of a minority bias when it came to allocation funds for graveyards and cremation grounds.
While addressing a rally in Fatehpur, Modi said: “Gaon me kabristan banta hai to shamshaan bhi bananaa chahiye. Ramzan me bijli aati hai to Diwali me bhi aani chahiye. Agar Holi mein bijli milti hai, to Eid par bhi bijli milni chahiye. Bhedbhav nahi hona chahiye.” (If a graveyard is made in a village, it should also have a cremation ground; if a village gets electricity during Ramzan, it should also get the same during Diwali. If there is electricity during Holi, there should be electricity during Eid too. There should be no discrimination.)
As per the power department’s records, 13,500 megawatt (MW) power was supplied on Eid ul Fitr celebrated on July 6, 2016. Later, the same year, around 15,400 MW supply per day was maintained from October 28 to November 1 (from Dhanteras to Bhai Dooj).
InUth also found that religious places of all faiths got uninterrupted power supply from the government of UP and that it was not given on just Eid. Places of worship of both faiths were provided 24 hours’ uninterrupted power supply. This list includes Jain Mandir (Hastinapur), Sarnath (Varanasi), Shukratal (Muzaffarnagar), Panch Payara Mandir in Hastinapur, Vrindavan. Mathura and Kasia in Kushinagar. Similarly, Deva Sharif, Deoband, Dargah Kihocha Sharif (Ambedkarnagar) and Dargah Ali Nazabee also benefited from the uninterrupted 24-hour supply of electricity.
When it comes to cemeteries, the SP government allocated Rs 180 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 200 crore in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the budgetary allocation for cremation grounds was Rs 100 crore in 2014-2015; it facilitated the construction of 755 cremation grounds.
To gain the support of voters, PM Modi tried to polarise the Hindu population, but this time he got his facts wrong. This is not the first time when the BJP has relied on communal politics to gain power. In the past too, BJP brought the issues of ‘cow mata’ and crackers bursting in Pakistan in Bihar during elections.
Three phases of UP elections are already over and PM Modi and party president Amit Shah are fighting their biggest battle in UP. If the gamble fails, the duo will have to watch out for knives, especially from within the party.
At present, one thing is clear that the BJP’s development agenda has been sidelined and it is back to basics of dividing the people on religious lines.