DEOBAND (SAHARANPUR) : Launching a scathing attack on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress, leaders of the state-level alliance in Uttar Pradesh, comprising the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), said the Lok Sabha polls would usher in a grand change and a new prime minister.

Addressing the first joint public meeting at Deoband on Sunday, BSP chief Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and RLD chief Ajit Singh said the policies of both BJP and Congress were similar and that the parties had ignored farmers’ issues, especially those of sugarcane growers.

“This Lok Sabha election will bring a grand change and find a new prime minister of the country. The grand alliance will give a new prime minister to the country," Yadav said. “This election is to protect the people from communal politics and end hatred. The BJP is trying to divide brothers just like the British used to do."

Uttar Pradesh is crucial for political parties as it sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. The ruling BJP-led coalition won 73 seats in the state in the 2014 general elections, and again stamped its political dominance in the 2017 assembly elections by winning a three-fourth majority. This will, however, be the first time that BJP will face the combined force of three regional heavyweights in statewide elections. BJP, however, lost bypolls in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Phulpur, two of its bastions, in 2018 to the regional alliance.

The western region of the state goes to the polls on 11 April in the first phase of general elections. In the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 assembly polls, BJP had won most of the seats from the region. The dominance of BJP in the state prompted the three parties to contest the elections jointly.

The three leaders said that though the BJP had promised jobs for the youth, better prices to farmers and safety for women, it failed to deliver on them. Despite that, both BJP and Congress were again trying to misguide the poor by promising to end poverty.

“BJP is going to use various tricks to misguide people. All promises made by BJP are false," Mayawati said. “Farmers are suffering because they were not getting the right price. The Congress has also been in power for long and even now continues to talk about Garibi Hatao (abolish poverty). This slogan was first given by Indira Gandhi and now again Congress is talking about it."

The BSP chief said people must ensure that their votes did not get divided on the basis of caste and religion.

Continuing her tirade against the two national parties, Mayawati said both were facing corruption charges in defence deals—BJP in the procurement of the Rafale fighter jet and the Congress in the Bofors scam.

“The result of the general elections has to ensure that BJP loses the national polls and the party also does not come back to power in assembly election when it takes place. We have to defeat both Modi and Yogi Adityanath," said the BSP chief.

Mayawati said the Congress was unable to defeat BJP as the party had little presence in Uttar Pradesh and it was only the grand alliance that could challenge the electoral strength of BJP.

The leaders of the grand alliance also promised that if it came to power at the centre, they would ensure there was reservation in both government and private sector jobs. Mayawati said BJP was trying to return to power on the promise of giving 10% reservation to financially weaker sections in the general category, and using the deaths of soldiers for electoral gains.

“Terrorist attacks continue on our soldiers, but the BJP is only interested in taking political mileage from Pulwama attacks," Mayawati said. “The government is trying to intimidate political leaders by misusing investigative agencies. Policy decisions like demonetization and GST have caused unemployment in the country."

Accusing BJP of ignoring the interests of farmers, Singh said that Modi had tried to make fun of farmers by promising them 6,000 a year, but failed to pay the 5,000 crore dues to the sugarcane farmers of western Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati addresses a meeting on Sunday.ramesh pathania/mint
Mayawati addresses a meeting on Sunday.ramesh pathania/mint