Smarting after a day of ridicule over a goofed-up newspaper ad, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath set the tone for next year's state elections, raging at "people who say 'Abba Jaan'" in a double-edged barb that was seen grazing the minority Muslim community as well as his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav.
"Under PM Modi's leadership, there is no place for appeasement politics... Before 2017 was everyone able to get ration? Only those who used to say 'Abba Jaan' were digesting the ration," Adityanath said at an event in the state's Kushinagar.
'Abba Jaan' is a term used to address fathers by mostly Muslims, a community that the Hindu priest has targeted with divisive statements many times in the past. The swipe was also seen by some as one aimed for rival Akhilesh Yadav, son of former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.
#WATCH | Under PM Modi leadership, there is no place for appeasement politics....Before 2017 was everyone able to get ration?....Earlier only those who used to say 'Abba Jaan' were digesting the ration: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Kushinagar pic.twitter.com/CPr6IMbwry— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) September 12, 2021
The statement's communal undertone was called out by many on social media including former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
I've always maintained the BJP has no intention of fighting any election with an agenda other than blatant communalism & hatred with all the venom directed towards Muslims. Here is a CM seeking re-election claiming that Muslims ate up all the rations meant for Hindus. https://t.co/zaYtK43vpd— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) September 12, 2021
Last month, Yogi Adityanath, while speaking in the UP assembly, had hit out at what he called the promotion of vaccine hesitancy by the opposition, saying some only took the jab after their 'Abba Jaan' did, in a comment that came just days after Mulayam Singh Yadav got his jab.
"PM Modi actually changed the political agenda of the country. The politics that began in 1947 and was limited to caste, religion, region and language, family and dynasty, PM Modi made it for villages, the poor, farmers, youth, women and children," Adityanath also said.
The statement came just weeks after the BJP wrapped up a flashy nationwide campaign to publicise how it had picked an unprecedented number of members of underprivileged castes for PM Modi's cabinet.
It also came on the same day that the BJP announced Bhupendra Patel for Gujarat Chief Minister, widely seen as a move to appease the somewhat miffed Patel community ahead of the state elections next year.
Yogi Adityanath, who is being challenged by Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress, along with other outfits in polls due early next year, was jeered through the morning on Sunday over a newspaper ad gone wrong.
A full-page ad to brag about Uttar Pradesh's development under him ended up prominently using a photo from West Bengal, ruled by the BJP's nemesis Mamata Banerjee. The gaffe was blamed on the newspaper which issued an apology on Twitter as well.