As an old Indian saying goes, one may or may not go for someone’s happy occasion but one must go for the sad one. Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav showed rather a poor form by not paying his last respects to former chief minister Kalyan Singh. Neither did Akhilesh attend Singh’s funeral nor a condolence meeting organised in Lucknow.
This is bound to be used as a political weapon by the BJP against the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming elections as Singh was a tall OBC leader and Yadav will face tough questions on why even basic courtesies were not extended by him towards a departed chief minister. BJP state president Swatantra Dev Singh went to the residence of Mulayam Singh Yadav to invite him for the condolence meeting but Mulayam cited his ill-health to say he couldn’t come. But Akhilesh didn’t fill in for his father at the condolence meeting.
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In contrast, BSP supremo Mayawati showed ‘political correctness’ by paying her last respects to Singh at the latter’s residence, the day after he passed away. She deputed senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra to attend the condolence meeting organised in Lucknow on Tuesday. Mishra attended the meeting and also spoke briefly on the occasion, saying Kalyan Singh never delayed taking decisions. Like Akhilesh Yadav, top Congress leaders also stayed away from all ceremonies for Singh and even the state Congress leaders did not pay their last respects to him or attend the condolence meeting.
Samajwadi Party leaders argue that Akhilesh Yadav did issue a message of condolence, perhaps spoke to Singh’s son Rajveer Singh on the phone and was away at Saifai on the day Singh’s body was kept in Lucknow for leaders to pay their last respects. The leaders also accused the BJP of playing politics over Singh’s death and cite how the BJP had expelled Singh in the past and had not made his son a cabinet minister despite that being a long-standing wish of Singh. Leaders of the Samajwadi Party point out it was Mulayam Singh Yadav who took Kalyan Singh in his fold when the BJP expelled him and helped him win a Lok Sabha seat.
However, there can be little explanation as to why a former chief minister couldn’t find time to attend any of the three ceremonies for the late chief minister. BJP leaders say there is anger amongst the Lodh OBC community, to which Singh belonged, towards Akhilesh for doing so. This has also given BJP a chance for Hindu consolidation ahead of elections, asking if Yadav shunned Kalyan Singh in his death in order to not offend his Muslim vote bank as Singh was the ‘hero’ of the Ram temple movement and was chief minister when Babri Masjid was demolished.
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