Akhilesh Yadav challenged the BJP for a debate on development (Photo Credit: PTI File)
Those who "understand the soul" of the country are opposed to the amended citizenship law, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said on Wednesday, accusing the BJP of discriminating on the basis of religion. When asked about Union Home Minister Amit Shah's challenge for a debate on the citizenship law, he said, "I challenge the BJP for a debate on development."
"I ask them to fix a place or a forum, with their favourite channels and anchors, for a debate on development. We Samajwadis are ready for it. Why did they not want to debate on the state of the economy and demonetisation," Yadav said. He also alleged that the BJP is playing with the Constitution as it has majority in Lok Sabha.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said as far as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is concerned, "not only the Samajwadi Party (SP) but all those who understand the soul of the country are opposing it".
"I am glad that women have taken the lead and youth are protesting in large numbers": Yadav told reporters after garlanding a statue of SP leader Janeshwar Mishra at a park on his death anniversary.
Mahatma Gandhi and Dr BR Ambedkar were against discrimination, the SP chief said as he accused the BJP of suppressing the voice of the people.
"Discrimination on the basis of religion is being done by the BJP and every Indian is against it. Will they (the BJP) kill the soul of the country and create fissures in society for votes," he said.
"With majority they (the BJP) cannot suppress the voice of the common people. Democracy will be strengthened by the voice of the people," Yadav said.
Accusing Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of using words like "thok diya jayega" in his speeches, he said, "This cannot be the language of a politician".
"BJP used 'kabristan and shamshan' and 'Diwali and Ramzan' during election rallies for the sake of votes," Yadav said.
Since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh, it has failed to protect farmers, he said.
On Shah advising him to "remain silent", Yadav said, "They don't need big officers. Direct a constable, ask him to put 'ganja' (cannabis) in my pocket and send me to jail." The SP leader said this citing the case of a Kushinagar-based painter, who was allegedly sent to jail in similar way by police.
He alleged that Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of custodial deaths, fake encounters and notices from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
On being asked about allegations that the SP was speaking the language of India's enemies, Yadav said, "I have never met (Pakistan prime minister) Imran Khan. If you talk about Pakistan, I want to tell that we Samajwadis are 'Bhartiya'".
Asked about the BJP's allegations that money is being paid to women protesting against the CAA, he said, "BJP men used to spend money to bring crowds to their rallies. Those who have gathered to protest against the CAA came on their own."
Reiterating support for a Caste Census, Yadav said that "thousands of crores of rupees are going to be spent on the Census, then why caste data cannot come out".
If caste data is revealed, the Hindu-Muslim dispute will end, the SP leader said.