Lucknow: Angry over Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav being stopped from flying to Prayagraj by the Yogi Adityanath government on grounds of law and order, party workers went on the rampage across several parts of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.
Yadav said he was stopped by authorities at the Lucknow airport in a bid to prevent him from visiting Allahabad, triggering outrage by party lawmakers in the state legislature and workers outside the airport.
Protests broke out in Allahabad, Jaunpur, Jhansi, Kannauj, Balrampur, Jalaun, Azamgarh and Gorakhpur, among other places, where SP supporters smashed windscreens of vehicles and clashed with the police. Roads were blocked in Gorakhpur.
Agitated SP legislators also sat on dharna outside Raj Bhawan against the “undemocratic behaviour” of the BJP government after staging a noisy protest in the UP legislature. They relented when Governor Ram Naik sent a message to them that he would meet their delegation tomorrow.
SP leaders said party MP Dharmendra Yadav was injured in Allahabad in cane charge by the police.
The issue rocked the Rajya Sabha as SP and other opposition parties protested over the incident, disrupting the proceedings of the House. The matter also caused an uproar in both Houses of the Uttar Pradesh legislature.
Defending the move, Adityanath said that Yadav’s visit could have triggered violence between rival student groups at the university. “The Allahabad University had urged the government to stop his visit and the government acted,” he said.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav alleged that the Centre was “involved” in preventing him from flying to Allahabad from the Lucknow airport.
At a hurriedly convened press conference here, Yadav claimed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s remark, that the visit could have triggered violence, is a cover to hide nervousness and the incident shows how “scared” the government is.
“I think the government at the Centre is also involved in stopping me. State police cannot enter airport as its security is in Centre’s hand,” he claimed.
The former chief minister claimed that the state government could not have stopped him inside the airport.
“This is work of the Centre. I think government at the Centre is also involved in stopping me. The state police cannot enter airport as its security is in Centre’s hand. Despite this police reached there and stopped me without any written order,” he said.
Yadav said he was stopped from boarding a flight to Allahabad to attend a students’ union programme.
“I haven’t been given a reason why but it seems the general impression was that I would create a law and order problem. The CM has given a statement to this effect but they are using this as a cover to hide their nervousness because our youth have had enough,” he claimed.
Extending support to Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati said the incident was extremely condemnable and asked whether the ruling BJP was afraid of their alliance because of which it is “resorting to anti-democratic methods”.
She described the episode as “an example of total dictatorship of BJP government”. “This is very unfortunate and this undemocratic step will be fought at all levels,” she said.
“Are the BJP governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh so afraid of BSP-SP alliance that they are resorting to anti-democratic methods to curb our political activities,” she asked.
Targeting the Centre and the state government over the incident, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it happened because of “arrogant attitude of so-called BJP leaders”.
“I’ve already spoken to @yadavakhilesh. We all condemn the arrogant attitude of the so-called #BJP leaders who didn’t allow Akhilesh to address the students. Even @jigneshmevani80 was not allowed,” Banerjee wrote on her Twitter handle.
“Where is the democracy in our country? And they are giving lessons to everybody!” she added.