Muzaffarnagar (UP), Feb 3: In 2016, nearly two and a half years after the Muzaffarnagar riots, when bypoll was held in this constituency following the death of the then sitting Samajwadi Party Member of Legislative Assembly Chitranjan Swaroop, the Bharatiya Janata Party won the seat battling a sympathy wave in favour of the leader's son.
Many analysts had then said the saffron party was able to exploit the communal faultlines through its campaign which was led by riot-accused BJP leaders. The BJP had deployed local Member of Parliament and Minister of State for Agriculture in Modi government, Sanjeev Balyan, MP Hukum Singh and MLA Suresh Rana for campaigning in February-2016 bypoll, the first after the communal riots.
They were all named as accused in cases related to the 2013 riots which left at least 60 dead and thousands displaced. However, for the upcoming elections, the party seems to have adopted the much-publicised narrative of development. Western UP, where tension had prevailed during the 2014 Lok Sabha election too in the wake of riots, is calm and elections would be held peacefully with development being the major issue, Balyan told PTI.
He talked of how despite facing difficulties people have supported demonetisation in national interest. The BJP leader targeted the Akhilesh Yadav Government over alleged corruption and mining mafia. He also said it was his party's strategy not to declare its chief ministerial face.
"In the United Progressive Alliance government, it was said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is honest but the government is corrupt. Now Akhilesh Yadavji is also saying 'I am honest and removed one minister over allegations of corruption' but he reinstated him again after 15 days," Balyan said.
"Now who is accountable? If there is corruption by the state government, it's the Chief Minister who is accountable," he said. He alleged mining mafia "continues to operate" in the state "as it did" during the previous Bahujan Samaj Party dispensation.
"If there is no corruption how can mafia continue to operate?" he asked. Balyan also claimed that the state government waived Rs 2,000 crore that sugar mills owed to farmers.
"It was money of the farmers and the government had no right to waive it. If there was no corruption, then what was the reason to waive the money the sugar mills owed?" Balyan asked attacking the rival SP.