Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday attacked BJP's political rivals in Uttar Pradesh, saying that in the acronym SCAM 'S' stands for Samajwadi (Party), 'C' for Congress, 'A' for Akhilesh and 'M' for Mayawati. It drew a riposte from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who said the word stood for "Save the Country from Amit Shah and Modi". The Congress too hit back.
Campaigning ahead of the first phase of the seven-phased Uttar Pradesh assembly elections with a 'Vijay Shankhnaad Rally' here, Modi slammed the Samajwadi Party and Congress for forging a pre-poll alliance.
Modi called upon the people to give his Bharatiya Janata Party a mandate similar to the 2014 general elections when the party won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. He also took digs at the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party on demonetisation and sought the people's support in making the country "corruption-free".
Uttar Pradesh will witness a seven-phased election for 403 seats from February 11 to March 8. The BJP is fighting a triangular contest with the SP-Congress combine and the BSP. Leaders from these parties have been addressing a series of rallies in western Uttar Pradesh that goes to polling in the first phase.
In his well attended rally, Modi urged people to vote for change and remove the state government that he claimed scuttled development. He said it was a fight against "SCAM." "Do you know what 'SCAM' stands for? It is 'S' for Samajwadi (Party), 'C' for Congress, 'A' for Akhilesh and 'M' for Mayawati."
"Uttar Pradesh has to decide whether it wants a scam or lotus (election symbol of BJP). It wants scam or development," Modi said.
Hours after Modi's remarks, Akhilesh Yadav returned fire, saying that 'A' and 'M' in the acronym stand for BJP President Amit Shah and Modi. Addressing a rally at Auraiya, the 43-year-old Samajwadi leader said SCAM means — "Save the Country from Amit Shah and Modi".
"If we have to save the country, we have to save it from the politicians whose names start with A and M," Akhilesh said to loud cheers from his supporters.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vaddakan said: "Let us also tell them the meaning of SCAM in Hindi. "SCAM means Sattabhogi (hungry for power), Kapti dhongi (fraudster) and Amit Shah Modi."
Modi, in his speech, said till a few months back the Congress was accusing the ruling Samajwadi Party of corruption and neglecting farmers, but the two have now "embraced each other".
"What changed overnight that the two arch rivals embraced each other? This is to save themselves. Those who cannot save themselves, how will they save Uttar Pradesh?" Modi said.
The Prime Minister urged the voters to defeat parties involved in graft and leaders who promoted caste and vote-bank politics.
Referring to the November 8 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Modi said he knew that people with ill-gotten wealth will become his enemies but the people are with him.
"I am not going to stop, neither will I bow to such forces. I am Modi… I will not rest and will not allow those with ill-gotten money to rest. I am not going to stop the fight," the BJP leader said as the audience cheered.
Modi took potshots at the BSP, saying people who had sold tickets and stashed money in rooms had lost it all (due to demonetisation).
Attacking the Congress, he alleged that an undisclosed income of Rs 150 crore was found from the residence of a Karnataka minister but he had not been removed from office.
"The Congress should give an answer," he said.
Modi asked the income tax officials to go only after the big fish and not cause unnecessary problems for others. "If there is any harassment, bring it to my notice," he said.
The Prime Minister, who is an MP from Varanasi, said he had tried to do whatever he could for the development of Uttar Pradesh but a lot remained to be done. "But for the development to happen, you will have to remove the state government that scuttles development. Otherwise, howsoever hard I try to help Uttar Pradesh, the funds from Delhi will be stopped at Lucknow," Modi said.
The BJP won 47 seats in the 2012 assembly elections, finishing behind Samajwadi Party and BSP