Akhilesh Yadav today defended his comment that China is the real enemy while Pakistan is only the "political enemy" targeted by the BJP for votes and referenced General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff, who died in a helicopter crash on December 8.
"I said the same on Pakistan that General Bipin Rawat used to say. He had said that China is our biggest enemy. Can I not quote Bipin Rawat?" the Samajwadi Party chief told NDTV in an interview, responding to the BJP's sharp criticism of his recent comments.
In an interview with Economic Times, Akhilesh Yadav had said: "Our real enemy is China. Pakistan is our political enemy. But BJP only targets Pakistan because of their vote politics. In the Lok Sabha, only Samajwadi Party raised this question - when will we have members on 24 assembly seats in PoK? The then home minister said that we will reach till Aksai Chin. Now we are hearing what's happening in Galwan. They are encroaching our land, encroaching our businesses. The Indian government should think about this and consult opposition parties on how to deal with the situation."
General Rawat had in November said he considered China, not Pakistan, "India's biggest enemy".
"We should not come under any pressure from the psychological games played by China. That is what they want. China is our biggest enemy today, not Pakistan," General Rawat had said, adding that there was "no doubt" the threat on the northern borders was much bigger.
On Akhilesh Yadav's comment, the BJP said the Samajwadi Party leader had made his preference "obvious" in his choice of candidates.
"I want to tell Akhilesh Ji, who talks about Jinnah and Pakistan, that had Yakoob Menon been alive today, Samajwadi Party would have been given a ticket to him as well," Mr Patra had said, referring to the 1993 Bombay blast accused who was executed in 2015.
Uttar Pradesh will vote in seven phases from February 10. The results will be declared on March 10.