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‘Abba jaan’ remark triggers political war ahead of UP polls

LUCKNOW As the din over chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘abba jaan’ remark gets louder, the political discourse appears to be changing ahead of 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

A political war has ensued over the use of ‘abba jaan’, which are otherwise respectable words to address or refer to a father.

Yogi made the jibe while addressing a public meeting at Kushinagar recently. “Those who said ‘abba jaan’ used to get all the rations,” said Yogi while claiming that most of the people were not getting their rations before 2017. Yogi obviously made the remark to make his point about Muslim appeasement during the Samajwadi Party regime.

Yogi’s jibe irked the opposition more than once in recent months. “As they know that their government is on its way out, the language of its head has changed,” said former chief minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav in an obvious reference to Yogi’s “abba jaan” comment in Kushinagar.

Yogi used these words in another speech earlier, albeit in a different context.

While referring to the Covid vaccination in August 2021, Yogi said those who used to oppose vaccination were getting the jab after ‘abba jaan’ got vaccinated. Without naming any leader or his father, Yogi had apparently referred to Akhilesh Yadav’s apprehensions about the Covid vaccination.

Yadav had initially called the Covid-19 vaccine as “BJP’s vaccine” though he later decided to get vaccinated. His father and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav too got vaccinated. Yogi maintained that ‘abba jaan’ was not an un-parliamentary word. The SP, however, asked chief minister to mind his language.

UP government spokesman and minister for MSME Sidharth Nath Singh said the chief minister only highlighted how the previous government was using distribution of rations for appeasement. “Whenever the BJP talks about development programmes, the opposition sees polarization and there is no question of changing political discourse,” he added.

Besides the SP, others were also targeting the chief minister for his jibe ahead of the 2022 assembly polls. UP Congress Committee president Ajay Kumar Lallu said the Yogi government had failed on all fronts. He said use of such language was an indication about the CM’s frustration, who was now trying to mislead people.

Lallu said the chief minister apparently wanted to divert attention from real issues that were affecting the people of Uttar Pradesh.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi also joined the debate on the issue. Giving details about the low number of primary health centres, community health centres and sub-centres during the BJP government’s regime in the state, Owaisi said there would not have been any shouts of “abba, abba” if some work had been done.

“Use of words should be balanced by all leaders irrespective of their political affiliation, be it during or after the elections. Leaders of all political parties should mind their language and follow values of healthy politics,” said Professor SK Dwivedi, head of department, political science, Lucknow University.

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