KANPUR: It’s not exactly high-flutin’ riposte, but “S.C.A.M” has become a part of the political syntax in the Uttar Pradesh election.
It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who usually favours alliteration in his speeches, who first turned the noun into an acronym on Friday, conflating it with his opponents and their alleged corruption. “S for Samajwadi, C for Congress, A for Akhilkesh and M for Mayawati,” he said a rally at Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and political accomplice Rahul Gandhi, speaking together at a road show in Agra soon after, then delivered their interpretation.
“A stands for Amit Shah and M for (Prime Minister) Modi. ‘SCAM’ stands for Save the Country from Amit Shah and Modi,” said the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
Today, Mr Gandhi took it upon himself to rework the delivery. At a public meeting in Kanpur, where the crowd was about 10,000-strong, the 46-year-old Congress vice president said, “S means Service for the poor. C means Courage. A means Ability. M means Modesty,” professing that these are virtues that elude the PM.
At a rival rally in Aligarh in western UP, nearly 350 km away, the PM returned to his theme of promoting his abrupt ban on high-denomination notes as a threat to corruption, the reason, he said, for the fierce backlash from opposition parties.
“They are disturbed because I am checking graft,” the PM said to an audience of nearly 50,000.
Agra, Aligarh and Meerut are all situated in western Uttar Pradesh which votes on Saturday. Central UP’s Kanpur, on the other hand, votes in the third phase. The BJP has chosen to position demonetisation as the lead point of its campaign while Mr Yadav is betting big on voters responding to his claims of delivering much-needed infrastructure and development like highways between major cities.
In the sets of competing claims, the issue of corruption is being bench-pressed as one that carries a vast amount of weight.