Power Minister Piyush Goyal was speaking to the media in Varanasi yesterday when the lights went off. The minister was laboring his point on politics over electricity distribution in Uttar Pradesh, which has been a recurrent theme in the campaign for the state election.
He later tweeted images of his press conference in the dark and took a dig at Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who had rubbished allegations of unequal power supply in UP and challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “swear on Ganga maiyaa (mother Ganges)” that Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, did not have uninterrupted power.
“I swear on Ganga maiyyaa, today the power cut during the press meet exposed the hollow claims of the Samajwadi Party government,” tweeted Mr Goyal, also posting a link to his press conference at a BJP office in Varanasi’s Ghosabad.
When reporters confronted him about the irony of a power cut during the Power Minister’s event, Mr Goyal declared, “I am not worried about myself…I am worried about students who suffer from power cuts in their school or college…I am worried about the patient or the doctor who is probably in surgery, I am worried about farmers…”
Akhilesh Yadav, he added, should be asked why like Saifai, the home turf of the Yadav family in UP, other areas are also not entitled to power “without religious or caste divides”.
The last time Mr Goyal faced such a situation was at Shastri Bhawan in Delhi in May, when he was addressing the media on his ministry’s work and achievements. The minister smiled through the incessant outages and finally attempted a joke: “My wife says there should be power cuts in all my programmes so I can be sure that there are miles to go…”
This time, however, he seized the chance to drive home his point about religious and other discrimination in power supply on Akhilesh Yadav’s watch, a charge that PM Modi had first raised while campaigning earlier this month. “It’s not an empty political charge. It’s a proven fact,” Mr Goyal said.