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UP elections 2017: For jobs, peace and growth, voters weigh Akhilesh and Maya speeches

The Indian Express spoke to five voters who attended either or both rallies.

Written by Apurva | Muzaffarnagar |
February 7, 2017 1:42:28 am
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In back-to-back rallies in western UP last week, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and former CM Mayawati sent out much the same message: communal riots, poorly implemented schemes by the BJP government at the Centre and the promise of development.

On February 2, Akhilesh addressed five rallies in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. He lauded his government’s work and the alliance with the Congress, and attacked the BJP for demonetisation and the 2017 budget. Referring to the violence of 2013 in the region, he said “communal forces” had ruined brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims. “We have to work together to prosper. We must reject the divisive agenda that other parties spread like poison,” he said.

WATCH VIDEO | UP Elections 2017: Muzaffarnagar Revisited

The following day, Mayawati addressed a rally in Muzaffarnagar and blamed the SP and the BJP for communal riots and asked supporters to recall her tenure. She apologised for the statues and monuments she built and assured it would not happen again. She too attacked the BJP for demonetisation and the “failed” 2017 budget, and also for allegedly planning to stop reservation.

The Indian Express spoke to five voters who attended either or both rallies.

Rajesh Kumar Jaswal, 43

Now unemployed, used to run a snacks shop, lives in Muzaffarnagar

# Attended Akhilesh and Mayawati rallies in Muzaffarnagar

“I have to admit Akhilesh has spoken a lot about the development during his tenure. I have been a long-time BSP supporter but Akhilesh has performed. My big question is whether the government can afford to pay for all the schemes it keeps announcing. I have different needs: my son is paralysed and I have to care for him. Without a job it’s impossible. My vote will depend on this primarily.”

Nafiz, 62

Owns two cars, runs a small cab service and lives in Budhana

# Attended Akhilesh rally in Budhana, went to Muzaffarnagar to see Mayawati

“There seems to be an Akhilesh wave in this part of UP for the first time. But his party was in power during the Muzaffarnagar riots and such a thing would never have happened had Mayawati been CM. But the BJP has to be stopped… So for now, I believe the SP-Congress alliance is the best bet for us.”

Gayoor, 40

Daily wage labourer, lives in Nangla

# Attended Akhilesh rally in Budhana, went to Muzaffarnagar to see Mayawati

“I have seen the tenure of both and they have equal merits. While the law and order situation during Mayawati’s regime was spotless, Akhilesh has worked hard for development. I want to vote for one party, but I have certain familial obligations with the other party. No, I cannot tell you which party I want to vote for.”

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Subhash Chand Burman, 59

Owns a small vegetable shop, lives in Muzaffarnagar

# Attended both rallies in Muzaffarnagar

“I am not convinced with this aura around Akhilesh that seems to have suddenly happened. How can a son and father fight like this? After this Mayawati rally, I believe controlling law and order in UP is most important and nobody is better than Mayawati at doing this. Still, I attended Akhilesh’s rally to see for myself.”

Naresh Kumar Valmiki, 44

Daily wage labourer, lives in Khatauli

# Attended Akhilesh rally in Khatauli, Mayawati rally in Muzaffarnagar

“I saw Akhilesh’s rally but thought the crowds were a little small for a CM in Khatauli. I had to see the response for Behenji because I have voted for her several times. I must admit that, with several other Dalits in my village, I voted for Narendra Modi in 2014, but after demonetisation we are all back with the BSP.”

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