UP: Brij Bhushan's Gonda Rally Seen as 'Show of Strength' to BJP
Lucknow: The former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and Bhartiya Janata Party’s Kaiserganj Member of Parliament (MP) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh held a 25 km-long roadshow before addressing a rally in Gonda on Sunday to mark nine years of the BJP's central rule. The programmes were held while India’s top wrestlers had raised allegations of sexual assault against Singh and protested for over a month in the national capital.
After the road show, a rally was organised as part of the BJP campaign to mark the completion of nine years of BJP rule under PM Narendra Modi. However, it is seen as a ‘show of strength’ by Singh in Devipattan division ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
During his address, the six-time MP invoked Pakistan, Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru, and China but avoided any direct mention of the serious allegations against him.
Targeting the Congress over the Emergency of 1975 and the anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Singh said that under the previous Congress-led central governments, India had lost possession of thousands of square kilometres of land to Pakistan and China.
“Had a PM like Modi been there in the 1960s and 70s, the Indian territory grabbed by our neighbours would have been freed,” he said in his speech.
Political observers point out that during the rally, Singh only targeted the Congress, Nehru, and Pakistan, but steered clear of any attack on the BJP’s principal opposition in UP, the Samajwadi Party (SP).
“Though the rally was to mark nine years of the Modi government, in reality, it was a show of strength to tell the party he is still powerful in his constituency. He also conveyed in his speech that if his party does not give him a ticket due to the controversy (regarding sexual assault allegations), he will still contest from the same seat where he is the current MP,” Suman Gupta, a senior journalist based in Ayodhya told NewsClick.
When asked about the aspect of Singh not attacking Akhilesh Yadav and his party, Gupta said, “He wants to keep his options open. If he fails to get a BJP ticket in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, there are high chances of him contesting on an SP symbol.”
Singh has strongholds in Balrampur, Gonda, and Kaiserganj Lok Sabha Constituencies under the Devipatan division. He has contested from all three constituencies and won elections, said Suman.
Gupta also recalled how Singh had praised Akhilesh Yadav for not supporting the wrestlers’ protest, and the SP’s distance from the protest appeared to be the reason behind the BJP MP not attacking the opposition party.
Echoing a similar sentiment as Gupta, Mazhar Azad, a senior journalist in Basti, said the rally was purely “a stunt to give a message to the central leadership that Brij Bhushan Singh has the support of the public and he can retain his seat without the party ticket. Ever since the pressure increased to arrest and expel him from the party, he has wanted to show that he is a powerful leader in his region. Otherwise, a long roadshow of 25 kms does not make sense pre-election.”
Saleem Akhtar, who has been closely monitoring Brij Bhushan’s rally in Balrampur and Gonda, told NewsClick, “There are four assembly seats in Balrampur, and three of them were won by BJP leaders who are close to Singh. They can mobilise people in their support if the BJP takes disciplinary action against the former WFI chief. The rally organised on Sunday in Gonda was basically an indication to the BJP of Brij Bhushan’s popularity and strength.”
Earlier, Ayodhya seers, including influential Mahant Kamal Nayan Das-led Mani Ram Das Chhavni Peeth and the Mahant Maithili Raman Sharan-led Lakshman Qila faction have supported embattled BJP MP Brij Bhushan. They announced their support at the Jan Chetna Maha Rally at Ram Katha Park on June 5, demanding an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. However, Ayodhya district authorities had refused to permit to hold the rally.
Meanwhile, Western UP’s khaps and farmer organisations have come out in support of the wrestlers and demanded arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh.
A mahapanchayat was held at Shoram in Muzaffarnagar under the supervision of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Naresh Tikait. During the meeting, Tikait said that the government was trying to divide them into caste groups, but those who fought never had any caste, they were warriors
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