Lucknow: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday appeared to question the patriotism of the people of Gujarat when he said no soldier from the state got martyred, remarks the BJP claimed stemmed from "frustration".
Akhilesh, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, was roundly criticised by the Gujarat units of the Congress and BJP. The state BJP spokesman reminded Akhilesh of the contributions of Gujaratis like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to the freedom struggle.
"Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Dakshin Bharat har jagah se shaheed huye hain, Gujarat ka koi jawan shaheed hua ho toh batao (Jawans from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, South India and other parts of the country have sacrificed their lives but tell me whether anyone has been martyred from Gujarat)," he said.
Without naming BJP, he said, "They play politics in the name of martyrs, vande matram and nationalism. What is their definition (of nationalism)? They do not even consider us Hindus."
He was apparently targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Gujarat politician whose rise in national politics has been blamed by his detractors for simultaneous growth of aggressive nationalism.
Reacting sharply to Akhilesh's statement, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said, "His talk and politics have been discarded by the people of the state. That is the reason why he is making such statements in frustration."
Denouncing the comments of Akhilesh as "unwarranted", Maurya said those laying down their lives for the country were Indians first.
Reacting to Akhilesh's comments, Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said, "Gujarat has contributed significantly to India's struggle for independence. It was the leadership of (Mahatma) Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — both Gujaratis — that got us our freedom from the British rule."
"A soldier belongs to the nation and not a state, and his sacrifice should not be seen at a regional level. Even soldiers from Gujarat have attained martyrdom. It is out of his (Akhilesh's) frustration over the popular leadership of Gujarat that he made such a statement," he said.
Deprecating politics over the martyrdom of soldiers, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said it was because of the failure of the BJP government at the Centre that so many soldiers have been martyred.
"It is wrong to play politics over the martyrdom of our brave soldiers. They belong to the country, fight for the country and do not belong to any region, religion, caste or class," he said.
"I salute their bravery and martyrdom. It is the failure of the BJP government that such a large number of our soldiers have got martyred," Doshi said.
Yoga Guru Ramdev said, "No political leader should make such comments about any state and its culture." "This is the land of Sardar Patel, who united this
country, which was once divided into around 560 princely states. Can there be any bigger example of bravery?" he asked.
Updated Date: May 11, 2017 09:35 AM