Elections in Uttar Pradesh have always been about symbols like Cycle, Elephant and the Lotus. Come 2022, a new symbol will enter the political lexicon of UP — the mighty Bulldozer.
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav in his ongoing campaign has said that people will say goodbye to “BJP’s bulldozer”, along with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in the upcoming elections. He recently also dared the CM to change the BJP’s election symbol to a bulldozer.
Yadav’s attack refers to the BJP’s drive against unauthorised construction across Uttar Pradesh. The BJP takes pride in it, saying it has acted against “illegal properties” constructed or occupied by the likes of Mukhtar Ansari and Ateeq Ahmed. The bulldozer features in the BJP’s campaign songs as well.
“Then why are they not using the bulldozer to demolish the house of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni and his son? Or bulldoze the house of the policemen who killed an innocent man in Gorakhpur?” asks SP spokesperson Udayveer Singh, referring to the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and the death of a businessman during a police search in Yogi Adityanath’s erstwhile Lok Sabha constituency.
BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi says Yogi Adityanath’s bulldozer is the talk of the town. “Akhilesh Yadav is pained as those criminals and gangsters built their palaces during his reign. Now he is helplessly seeing them being demolished,” Tripathi says.
The BJP government in UP says it has acted against properties worth Rs 742 crore belonging to 33 top mafias of the state, by either bulldozing them to destruction or seizing them. CM Yogi Adityanath has said that houses for the poor will be built on the freed-up land under the PM Awas Yojana.
SP’s Udayveer Singh claims that houses of the poor, too, have been bulldozed. “They even demolished houses of people in Ayodhya while taking over land for the temple complex. Why not pay people compensation rather for a pious cause?” he asks.
“Everything (demolitions across the state) have happened as per the law. The motto is clear — no one can occupy the property of the poor by force. We are prepared to fight this election on this cause. People are with us,” Tripathi counters.
Singh in turn questions why the BJP has not acted against the properties of the likes of former MP Dhananjay Singh who has been declared absconding by the court. “Is it because he is from the same caste as the CM? The BJP has made the bulldozer a Hindu-Muslim issue by targeting distant relatives of Mukhtar Ansari and Ateeq Ahmed, and SP leader Azam Khan,” he says.
Interestingly, the machine being described as a bulldozer in popular parlance in UP is actually a JCB Excavator, which went massively viral in 2019 when Indians started sharing memes, photos and videos of random crowds gathering to watch the mighty machines go about their usual work.
But in the heat of the biggest state elections, it is the ‘bulldozer’ that is on rampage.