BJP’s election slogan ‘Mera Booth – Sabse Majboot’ seems to have transformed into ‘Mera Boot – Sabse Majboot’ in Uttar Pradesh.
This time, there are reports from Deoria district of the state where the BJP’s IT Cell in-charge has written to party president Amit Shah saying that he was assaulted by a party MLA with a shoe. The incident reportedly was on May 16.
It first started in the state when two elected representatives of the ruling BJP came to blows during the district planning committee meeting at Sant Kabir Nagar on March 6, in full public glare. The planning committee meeting was underway at the collectorate in the presence of the minister in charge of the district, Ashutosh Tandon. The BJP MP from Sant Kabir Nagar, Sharad Tripathi, and MLA from Mehdawal, Rakesh Baghel, got involved in a verbal duel over taking credit for a newly laid road.
After a brief exchange of words, laced with abuses, the Member of Parliament took off his shoe and thrashed the MLA who also retaliated, leaving officials and party leaders stunned. A senior police officer present at the meeting intervened to pacify the two and restore order as tempers ran high.
As a result of this, Sharad Tripathi was denied ticket this time from Sant Kabir Nagar. From the nearby Deoria seat, the BJP did not repeat its sitting MP and senior party leader Kalraj Mishra from Deoria, who had expressed unwillingness to contest. Mishra was replaced by the party’s former state chief Ramapati Ram Tripathi whose son and party MP Sharad Tripathi had hogged the limelight after beating his party MLA with a shoe in Sant Kabir Nagar.
The controversy did not die there as Ramapati Ram Tirpathi was greeted with posters, purportedly put out by the Kshatriya Samaj (Rajput community) of Deoria, saying, “hetmet ki karo taiyaari – aa rahe hain joota dhaari” (prepare yourselves with helmets as shoe wielding politician is coming here).
And now, with the May 16 incident, this has again become a central talking point amongst voters and politicians.
Vivek Avasthi is Senior Editor, Politics, with Business Television India (BTVI)