Sugarcane-sweetness or Jinnah? Yogi Adityanath asks country to make a choice
- Yogi Adityanath’s speech at the foundation stone-laying ceremony featured the name of Muhammad Ali Jinnah
- Adityanath’s naming of Jinnah’s followers is likely to have been an apparent dig at SP chief Akhilesh Yadav
- Uttar Pradesh’s politics is heating up ahead of Assembly elections early next year
The ghost of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, continues to haunt the political language of Uttar Pradesh, which is heading for a 403-seat Assembly election early next year. The occasion was one of celebration, resolve and welcoming in new infrastructure. But for Yogi Adityanath, a saint-turned-chief minister, it was still a moment to score a political point, and for him, bringing in Pakistan’s Qaid-e-Azam helped.
At the inauguration ceremony of the new airport in Noida, slated to be one of Asia’s biggest, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the country has to pick between the “sweetness of sugarcane” or “mischief by followers of Jinnah”.
“There is a new dichotomy in the country. Will the country give a new flight to the sweetness of sugarcane or will it allow Jinnah’s followers to cause riots,” the chief minister of India’s biggest state told thousands in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The proliferation of Jinnah references in Uttar Pradesh’s polity happened after former chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav listed Jinnah, who Indian popular historiography identifies as the architect of Partition, as among people who helped India gain Independence from the British along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
“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,” the 38-year-old Samajwadi Party chief said at a rally.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has consistently targeted SP for what it calls minority appeasement during its regime, slammed Yadav for drawing an equivalence between Indian freedom fighters, especially Sardar Patel, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
In response to Akhilesh Yadav’s Jinnah remark, Yogi Adityanath had said, “The Samajwadi Party chief yesterday compared Jinnah to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. This is shameful. It’s this Talibani mentality that believes in dividing.”
“Sardar Patel united the country. Currently, under the leadership of the PM, work is underway to achieve ‘Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat,” Adityanath said. Uttar Pradesh goes to polls early next year. The results of the polls in UP often serve as a bellwether for the country’s political winds.