Days after he was accused of polarising voters over his tweet that appeared to be a call for a “temple in Mathura”, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on Friday in a controversial speech said poor law and order situation in the state earlier was due to people in “skull caps who threatened traders”, among others.
Skull caps are usually associated with the attire of Muslim men.
“Before 2017, how many lungi-clad goons used to roam here? Who in skull caps used to threaten the traders while carrying guns? Who used to encroach upon your land and threaten you to not go to Police? Remember all this,” Mr Maurya said at a meeting of traders in Prayagraj, which was earlier known as Allahabad.
The BJP leader’s comments came as he accused the Samajwadi Party of shielding criminals as they went on to threaten and intimidate businessmen and traders, during their rule in the state.
“These criminals used to capture lands of businessmen and threaten them. The things that I am saying have all occurred,” he said while addressing a divisional meet of traders.
Earlier this week, Mr Maurya had appeared to suggest that preparations were underway for a temple in Mathura, the western UP town believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna , where a prominent mosque – the Shahi Idgah – is located right next to the Krishna janmabhoomi or birthplace.
“A grand temple in Ayodhya and Kashi is under construction; preparations are on for Mathura,” Mr Maurya tweeted on Wednesday.
The words appeared to be a play on a slogan that first gained traction among right-wing groups in the early 90s after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. “Yeh sirf jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura baaki hai (this is just a trailer, Kashi, Mathura still to come)” – went the slogan first shouted by right-wing activists on their way back after the Ayodhya mosque was demolished.
Two days ago , the right wing group Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha called off a proposed march to Mathura to install a Lord Krishna idol at the Shahi Idgah after elaborate rituals.
Last year, a civil court in Mathura dismissed a petition that sought to “reclaim” the Krishna janmabhoomi, claiming that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had destroyed a part of a temple at the site believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The petition also called for the mosque – the Shahi Idgah- next to the temple to be removed.
BSP chief Mayawati reacted saying that it is the “last tactic” of the party to ward of its impending defeat in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
“The statement given by UP Deputy CM Maurya ahead of the upcoming assembly elections that temple construction is going on in Ayodhya and Kashi and now there are preparations for Mathura reinforces the general perception of BJP’s defeat. People should beware of this (Akhiri hatkande) last tactic that is Hindu-Muslim politics,” Maywati said in a tweet in Hindi.