Donkey, Kasab, kabootar: Phase-V campaign touches a new low

NEW DELHI
25 Feb 2017

The high-decibel campaign for the fifth phase of the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, which had touched a new low by a free flow of scornful words like "donkey, Kasab and kabootar", came to a close this evening. A total of 51 constituencies, spread over 11 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, will go to polls on February 27 under this phase. The political campaigning in the fifth phase of the state polls was marked by 'war of words' among rival parties. At his rally in Bahraich, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit back at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for his "donkey" remark, asking him if he was afraid of the four-footed creatures of Gujarat. "I take inspiration from the donkey because I work for people day and night...donkeys are loyal to their master," he had said on Thursday to counter the SP chief's reference to donkeys of Gujarat in a poll meeting earlier in Rae Bareli. "It works even if it is ill, hungry or tired and completes the task...Akhileshji these 125 crore countrymen are my masters...I do all the work they ask me to do as I take inspiration from donkeys and take it with full pride," he said. The Prime Minister's reaction came as the UP CM advised megastar Amitabh Bachchan "not to advertise for the donkeys of Gujarat". Akhilesh was referring to an advertisement in which Bachchan, the brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism, is seen inviting tourists to visit the Wild Ass Sanctuary located in Little Rann of Kutch in the state. As if the "donkey" remark was not enough, BSP supremo Mayawati hit back at BJP president Amit Shah after he used the acronym "KASAB" for Congress, SP and BSP, saying, "there cannot be a bigger Kasab than him."  She also dubbed Shah a "terrorist". "Aaj apney desh mein Amit Shah sey bada yehan koi aur Kasab nahin ho sakta hai, arthat atanki nahin ho sakta hai (There cannot be a bigger Kasab, that is a terrorist, than Amit Shah)," she said after Shah coined the acronym matching the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack perpetrator. Akhilesh also hit out at the BJP chief for his 'KASAB' barb, saying "KA" actually stood for "kabutar" (pegion) and people will set BJP's pigeons free this election. Shah had said, "Until Uttar Pradesh gets rid of K-A-S-A-B, there will be no development in the state. Ka (in Hindi) is for Congress, Sa for Samajwadi Party and Ba for BSP."  The districts going to polls in this phase are Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi and Sultanpur. The Eelction Commission has announced fresh date of voting in Alapur (Ambedkar Nagar constituency) on March 9 due to the death of Samajwadi Party candidate Chandrashekhar Kanaujia. The ruling Samajwadi Party had won 37 seats out of 52 (total seats in this phase, including Alapur) in 2012 while BJP and Congress won five seats each. BSP had won three, while the Peace party won two seats. Shravasti, Balrampur, Sultanpur and Ambedkar Nagar had emerged as strongholds of Samajwadi Party which won all the seats in the previous state polls. In all, 608 candidates are in the fray in this phase with maximum of 24 candidates in Amethi and the minimum of six each in Kapilvastu and Etwa seats of Siddharth Nagar district. Prominent contestants in this phase include controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati (SP), who will be facing Amita Singh (Congress) and Garima Singh (BJP) in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi. Amita is the wife of Congress leader Sanjay Singh, while Garima is his estranged better half, making it a "rani versus rani" contest. SP ministers Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh from Tarabganj (Gonda), Tej Narain Pandey alias Pawan Pandey from Ayodhya and BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar from Akbarpur are some of the other popular names trying their luck in this phase. A total of 1.84 crore voters, including 96 lakh women, will exercise their franchise in the fifth phase.