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Congress attacks Akhilesh govt, Mulayam defends him

The government of Akhilesh Yadav, under attack for failing to check communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, cannot be faulted, said the young chief minister’s father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who also heads the Samajwadi Party.

Yadav said that the deadly violence, in which 38 people have died since Saturday, is being wrongly tagged as communal riots. Caste conflict is the correct descriptor, he said.

When asked to respond to an aggressive demand for the resignation of his son raised on Tuesday by the Congress, Yadav was unperturbed: ‘In a democracy, everyone has the right to criticise.’

The darts hurled by the Congress, however, must hurt. Yadav’s Samajwadi Party props up the Prime Minister’s minority government.

Yet, the Congress was unequivocal in its stand on Tuesday.

‘The chief minister should step down. The Samajwadi Party government is completely responsible for what happened at Muzaffarnagar,’ union minister Jitin Prasada said.

Before that, Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry declared: ‘If you can’t protect people and especially the minorities, then you have no right to remain chief minister.’

Uttar Pradesh, with its massive population of 20 crore, plays the largest role in deciding who forms the government at the Centre. With national elections due by May, the Congress cannot risk the perception of being soft on the Samajwadi Party in what has the makings of a defining episode in the state’s political narrative before it votes.

Thirty eight people have been killed in the clashes that began on Saturday after a farmers’ gathering, or maha-panchayat, called to demand justice for two Jat brothers who were lynched after they allegedly shot a Muslim man for harassing their sister.

On Monday, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that though he did not wish to blame the UP government, he had warned the chief minister of the building communal tension. When asked if the government should be dismissed for President’s Rule, the minister said, ‘We have to wait and watch the situation.’
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