On PM Modi's 'Shehzade' Jibe, Akhilesh Yadav's 'Sheh' (Defeat) Stinger

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Samajwadi Party chief were addressing rallies in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP had won 62 of Uttar Pradesh's 80 seats in 2019.

New Delhi:

Choosing to own the moniker of 'shehzade' (princes) bestowed on him and Rahul Gandhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav has indulged in a bit of wordplay and said the two leaders will be responsible for his and the BJP's 'sheh', or defeat.  

Addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Shravasti on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said in Hindi, "Uttar Pradesh is seeing the launch of a pair of two boys again. The same old flop film, the same old characters, the same dialogues - you tell me, the elections are almost over, have you heard anything new from them? The two 'shehzade' have not said anything believable even once. I can't understand why they are asking for votes."  

In a stinging retort, Mr Yadav said at a public event in Azamgarh, "They keep talking about 'shehzade'. You will see this time how the 'shehzade' hand them 'sheh' (defeat) and the people give them 'maat' (a drubbing)," he said. 

The BJP had lost in Shravasti to the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Ram Shiromani Verma in 2019, when the Mayawati-led party was in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. The SP has now joined hands with the Congress and Mr Verma is contesting from the seat as its candidate. 

Azamgarh is seen as a Samajwadi Party stronghold and Akhilesh Yadav, a former chief minister, had won from there in 2019 but had vacated the constituency in 2022 to take on the BJP as the leader of the opposition in the state Assembly. He is contesting from the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat this time. 

'Dynastic Politics'

The 'shehzade' jibe was used by the BJP and PM Modi primarily against Rahul Gandhi as a reference to dynasty and a hint that his entry into politics has been easy because of his lineage. After the formation of the INDIA alliance, the use of the dig has expanded to include Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav as well.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Congress President Mallkarjun Kharge had also hit out the Prime Minister over the jibe and asked him to look within. "Modi Sahab is the prince, he changes a kurta every hour and a jacket every two hours. Such people are calling Rahul Gandhi a prince," he had said. 

Among INDIA allies, the Samajwadi Party is contesting from 62 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress from 17 and the remaining seat is being fought by the Trinamool Congress. The BJP had won 62 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, down from 71 in 2014.

The state is voting in all seven phases of the ongoing election. The sixth phase will be held on Saturday and the seventh on June 1, followed by counting on June 4.