New Delhi: Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has strongly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “terrorists choosing cycles” comment at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, declaring that an “insult to the cycle is an insult to the entire nation”.
The SP chief’s comment was accompanied by a verse in Hindi about the bicycle – his party’s election symbol – as the ‘common man’s vehicle’ and the pride of a village. “The cycle connects a farmers to his field, laying the foundation of prosperity. The cycle takes our daughters to school, rising above social restrictions, it races ahead, untouched by inflation; the cycle is the common man’s vehicle, the pride of rural India; an insult to the cycle is an insult to the entire nation,” the 48-year-old Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, adding to his post an image of a schoolboy sitting a cycle, smiling at a toy plane in his hand.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister had made disparaging comments linking the SP’s election symbol to ‘terrorists’, in a reference to the 49 people convicted of the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts on Friday.
“I am referring to this today because some political parties have gone soft on terrorists. The blasts were executed in two ways. The first was in the city at 50-60 places, and then after two hours, a blast in a vehicle at a hospital, as relatives, officials and leaders would be going there. A number of people also died there,” PM Modi told a public meeting in Hardoi on Friday. “In the initial blasts, the bombs were kept on cycles… I wonder why they (terrorists) opted for cycles.”
Modi also accused the SP-led government of withdrawing cases against those accused in serial blasts in Varanasi (2006) and Ayodhya and Lucknow (2007), in Uttar Pradesh. “In 14 cases of terror attacks in UP, the Samajwadi government ordered the withdrawal of cases against many terrorists… not allowing these terrorists to be prosecuted,” he said, alleging that it was the Samajwadi Party’s “return gift”.
Friday marked the third round of voting in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, in which the ruling BJP faces a stiff challenge from the Samajwadi Party. The results will be announced on March 10.