Mudda panellists discuss saffronisation of Uttar Pradesh, accuse Yogi Adityanath of condoning wastage of money by officials, appeal for end to frivolous activity
Fifty-four of 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh bear the backward tag, yet babus these days are busy painting the town saffron. Lakhs are being spent to colour the Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhavan, which houses the secretariat, bungalows of ministers living in Lucknow’s Kalidas and Vikramaditya Margs, buses and government guesthouses, even road signage. The plan is to include photos of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya in the signs, flashing the slogan, “sarkar ka sankalp, sarkon ki kayakalp”.
Saturday’s Mudda on APN took up the “politics of colour” for discussion with Anant Tyagi moderating a debate comprising BJP spokesperson Sanjay Singh, Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi, SP leader KC Jain and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju.
Singh made the opening remarks, saying “vikas ka naam bhagwa (saffron is the name of development)”. Singh added that the colour symbolised valour, perseverance and sacrifice and “if others object to its use”, they were surely being unreasonable. “What’s in a colour?” he asked. He said saffron was part of the national flag and that “bhagwa is the symbol of Hindutva, and Hindutva is secular. There is nothing called saffron terrorism, it is all false propaganda”. But he had no answer when Tyagi asked him about the other colours of the flag and the values of non-Hindu citizens and if that meant he did not follow the prime minister’s motto of sab ka saath, saab ka vikas or inclusive development.
“It is not a matter of colour. We don’t object to saffron or green. But changing colour has become the habit of the BJP. If you colour the buses saffron, make sure they are clean and people’s clothes don’t tear when they get trapped in the disintegrating body of transport while boarding and disembarking. As long as children are dying in Gorakhpur for want of oxygen or treatment, the government has no business wasting time in such frivolous activity,” Jain said.
Awasthi, too, agreed. “What about unemployment? Let them first keep the promises on their election manifesto. Let them not back away from these like they did in case of GST. They reduced the farmer loan waiver to a joke. Let them not connect their colour to the national flag because it is the RSS which, on occasion, burns it,” he said.
“Bhagwa ko kisi rang se aapatti nahin hai (Saffron has no enmity with any other colour),” said Singh. When others broke into laughter, he said, “Don’t laugh at us. Because of bhagwa, there is secularism in the country.”
When Raju’s turn came, he provided a scathing indictment of the government. “This exercise is not justified. The valour the BJP is talking about is hooliganism. If you cannot implement the promises based on which you came to power, you have no right to waste money on such issues. The Yogi government has displayed no agenda, no vision and no political will. The ministers are merrily engaging in kursi kheenchi abhiyan (office politics). Soon, you will see newly-built toilets being painted saffron. Where are the CCTVs for preventing copying during boards due in three-four months as promised? RERA still functions without a chairman. The state electricity board chief, who has corruption charges pending against him, could not be sacked either,” he said.
When the anchor asked Singh to explain, all he had to say was this, “It’s our headache. After all, it is we who have to face the consequences of our performance. And we have to undo SP’s bad work.”
Telling him not to engage in whataboutery, Tyagi then asked him about his government’s initiatives to develop the 54 backward districts. He started with Bundelkhand which suffers a huge drinking water problem. “The centre has sent funds,” said Singh. “We are working to solve the problem.” But when Tyagi asked him for a more concrete answer, he could not provide it.
Pant said there was too much talk of development. “If one wants to fool oneself, yes a lot of work is being done. There are 40-50 inaugurations and foundation stones being laid. The beacon system is out, but the CM travels with nine cars bearing tall saffron banners, in true kingly style. But are they serious about solving people’s problems? The SP government had brought about a Lohia pension scheme. The BJP government shut it down alleging corruption. Have they provided the poor and marginalized benefiting from it with an alternative?” he said.
He then cited the Vienna Protocol of which India is a signatory and said, “Roads follow an international colour scheme. You cannot do as you like with them. If you play around too much, you will see red flowing, as there will be accidents.”
He reminded the audience that it was Yogi Adityanath who had once said that he does not believe in fazoolkharchi or waste of money. He would also go to any extent to further the cause of the people. Now that he has come to power with such a huge mandate, officials are falling over each other to provide him with saffron towels and he does not dare to discipline them.
Compiled by Sucheta Dasgupta