In the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unleashed a barrage of offensives at the Samajwadi Party, saying on 7 December that “lal topi wale” were no less than a “red alert (khatre ki ghanti)” for the state. He linked the SP to crime, forcible eviction of people from their houses and properties, and terrorism.
SP activists wear their trademark red caps to signal their socialist leanings. “Ye laal topi waalon ko satta chahiye… lal batti chahiye… ghotalon ke liye… apni tijori bharne ke liye … awaidh kabjon ke liye aur mafiayon ko khuli chhut dene ke liye (These people with red caps want power for scams, filling their coffers, allowing illegal occupation of land and giving the mafia a free hand),” he said.
Prime Minister Modi inaugurated flagship projects in Gorakhpur, including a fertiliser factory, an AIIMS and a regional medical centre, before the speech.
Modi accused the SP of forgetting the principles of socialist ideologues like Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan and being blind to the problems of the poor and farmers. “They also want to form the government to shower kindness to terrorists and get them freed from jail,” he said in a reference to previous the SP government’s decision to withdraw cases against the 2006 Varanasi and Ayodhya serial blasts accused.
The prime minister’s barbs at the SP coincide with the Akhilesh Yadav-led party’s self-positioning as the ideological opposite of the BJP to emerge as its most potent rival. His remark coincided with Yadav holding a joint rally with ally and RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary in Meerut as part of a show of strength in communally sensitive west UP. Hitting back at the prime minister, Akhilesh asserted that people wearing red caps are “red alerts” also for the BJP as they will “oust it from power” in the next Uttar Pradesh assembly election.