There is nothing like a 'Narendra Modi wave', says UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today, but conceded that Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) reach has expanded "to some extent" in his politically-crucial state.
Akhilesh Yadav took a dig at BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi for his "petty" statements like giving lions from Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh and said only somebody with a big heart can become the Prime Minister.
He responded to Narendra Modi's barb that UP saw over 100 riots in the last two years against none in Gujarat in 10 years, alleging that it was Narendra Modi government which starts communal violence in Gujarat while he was working to stop it in UP.
The rallies of Samajwadi Party have been bigger than those of BJP, Yadav claimed at India Today Conclave, adding that BJP supporters make their gathering appear bigger by leaving empty space around them while SP supporters sit together closely.
"This is true that BJP has increased its numbers among people by some margin. People in some measure are attending their rallies. But to say results will be in their favour is difficult," he said in what appeared to be a reluctant admission of the challenge a resurgent BJP is posing to SP in UP, which sends the largest contingent of 80 MPs to Lok Sabha.
Asked if there is a Narendra Modi wave in UP, he rejected it, saying "there is no such atmosphere so far".
Yadav also attacked BSP Chief Mayawati and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and said he has no wish to meet the former Delhi Chief Minister, who recently held a rally in Kanpur and roadshows across towns of UP. "AAP won't have much impact in UP," he insisted.
Mayawati, he said, wasted public money in self-promotion and gave an impression that she was a bigger leader than Bhim Rao Ambedkar as her statues were taller than that of the Dalit icon.
He, however, hinted at SP's willingness to do business with Congress, saying it is said among 'Samajwadis' that they will stand by the Congress, when it is at its weakest.
Asked about his father and SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav's frequent criticism of his government, he said children should take their elders' scolding in the right sprit and his government had learnt from it.