With Uttar Pradesh inching towards the 2017 assembly election, political winds are blowing the dust from the storm in Mathura across the state as parties attempt to gain traction from the violence that killed 27 people.
Within two days of the clashes at Jawahar Bagh park, politicians – both big and small – have come out with their two cents, giving the Bisada beef lynching controversy a rest.
Read | Bisada tense, villagers cry foul over ‘media, political bias’
Since a man was lynched in Bisada in October 2015 by villagers who suspected that he had slaughtered a cow and consumed its meat, the issue of beef, secularity and tolerance have been hot-button topics. Political parties have rallied both for and against the issue, polarising the consensus between caste and religion.
Read | Dadri lynching: 6 months on, memories linger but no Muslims left village
But on June 2, more than a 100 people were hurt in Mathura when police attempted to evict around 3,000 people from Jawar Bagh park. The park had been encroached upon in the past two years. Among the dead were also two police officers.
Read | Mathura clashes: Death toll climbs to 24, NBW issued against ‘mastermind’
Like moths to a flame, politicians moved their attention away from the beef controversy. For now.
While Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati demanded that chief minister Akhilesh Yadav resign, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah called for public works department minister, Shivpal Singh Yadav, to resign.
Speaking from Kanpur, Shah attacked the Samajwadi Party (SP)-led government, calling it an utter failure in matters of law and order.
“Two police officers are murdered so brazenly; this is the law and order in Uttar Pradesh,” he said as he launched the BJP’s mission 2017 in Rooma and interacted with 15,000 booth level workers from 22 districts.
Stating that UP had the worst law and order situation among all states, Shah further said the SP government had lost its moral right to stay in power.
“A top minister in Lucknow was telling the police officers not to open fire at the encroachers,” Shah told the crowd.
Read | Samajwadi Party govt comes under fire after Mathura clashes
Demanding that SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav ask his brother and minister Shivpal to resign immediately, Shah insinuated that Shivpal allegedly pressured police not to act against the squatters.
“Netaji (Mulayam Singh) should get Shivpal’s resignation immediately,” he said.
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Responding to Shah, Shivpal challenged the BJP president to prove the allegations, countering that Shah was responsible for mass killings in Gujarat. “His statement is misinformation and brazenly misleading. It does not suit a person occupying a party’s national president position to make such baseless allegation only for political motives. If he has any evidence (against me) then he must make them public or seek apology publicly for defamatory statements,” the minister said.
Read | Mathura clashes: Lessons that are never learnt
Among those who took a swipe at the government was Mayawati, who, after calling for Akhilesh Yadav to step down as chief minister, criticised him for his priorities.
“Instead of going to Bundelkhand, he should have had visited Mathura,” Mayawati said on Saturday. Akhilesh had visited Charkhari Bundelkhand earlier in the day.
Akhilesh though did not lose the opportunity to retaliate, attacking opposition parties for doing “dikhave ki rajneeti” (politics for the sake of showing off).
“The SP doesn’t believe in this ‘dikhave ki rajneeti’, these parties certainly do. We believe in helping… There are other issues for you to play politics on, don’t play on this one,” he said while at Charkhari.
Joining the fray, Union minister of state for tourism, Dr Mahesh Sharma, also pushed for the resignation of the state government on Saturday. “Jawahar Bagh incident further exposes poor law and order across the state. State Intelligence and security agencies badly failed in assessing the situation.”
The BJP, however, faced its own challenges in the matter through its Mathura MP, Hema Malini.
The actor-turned-politician came under fire for tweeting about her movie after the violence broke out.
Read | Day after Twitter gaffe, Mathura MP Hema Malini stopped at clash site
SP Rajya Sabha member, Naresh Agrawal cited the tweets when he claimed Malini had nothing to do with Mathura people.
She, however, held a dharna in Mathura after she reached the city on Saturday.
“I was in Mathura for 10 days… I had left Mathura only a day before the incident. When I learnt about the incident, I cancelled all my engagements and reached Mathura. I met the injured and hospitalised policemen and went to the house of martyr superintendent of police (city) to console his family,” Malini stated.
She further pointed out that MLAs from Mathura had remained silent when they could have raised the Jawahar Bagh issue in the state assembly.
“It is funny to blame me for inaction,” she said.
However, the national spokesperson for the Aam Admi Party (AAP), Sanjay Singh, also attacked BJP leader, stating that Malini should resign from parliament and devote herself to acting instead. Singh was in Mathura to meet the family of the deceased police officials.