Law and order, health setup dismal. But UP govt focus is on saffronisation
Uttar Pradesh has a creaking health infrastructure; the law-and-order situation is terrible. But the Adityanath government seems to be bothered only with the agenda of saffronisation.
Amid the drive to end open defecation, a National Family Health Survey fact-sheet showed that only 23% of rural households in Uttar Pradesh have improved sanitation facilities. Only 62.3% of rural households have electricity.
Clearly, the state government has other concerns – it is too busy with its saffron agenda to worry about these issues. None of this can come in the way of painting the state secretariat's annexe building a vibrant saffron.
UP's problems do not end at open defecation and no electricity, other health parameters too, like facilities available in primary health centres and community health centres and availability of doctors, the state lags behind many others in the country. The government, it appears, believes that replacing white bed-sheets with saffron ones in health centres will solve the problem.
There are other areas of concern as well. On law and order front, the state witnessed 60 communal incidents in 2017, the highest in the country, with 16 deaths, according to a Union Home Ministry data. In 2016, there were 162 incidents and 29 deaths.
But, the state government much rather paint everything saffron so that communal harmony is not disturbed.
The government’s plan to paint the annexe building in saffron comes after saffron buses, electric poles and school bags. The annexe building houses the chief minister’s office.
Named Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan, the building was earlier painted white and light yellow and no other political party had tried to give the building its party colour.
The colour scheme for the building was approved by Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi himself. This was confirmed by the Estate Officer Yogesh Kumar Shukla.
The opposition leaders called this project the “bhagwa karan” saffronisation of the state brick by brick.
A former secretary of the Secretariat Department recalled how the saffron colour was used to paint a part of the main Vidhan Sabha building but it had to be removed after Mulayam Singh Yadav took a strong view against it.
Last month, the chief minister had flagged off saffron buses. The electricity department ordered painting electric poles in unauthorised colonies in the saffron.
A reporter of a Delhi-based news magazine said that the government’s obsession with saffronisation was taking the attention away from more serious issues concerning the public. He said that in Sonauli, an area bordering Gorakhpur-Nepal border, even the bed-sheets in a community health centre were saffron even though some basic facilities were missing.
Bahujan Samaj Party spokesman Ummed Singh said that annexe building is where the chief minister sits and not the party office of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“Will the chief minister now carry a lotus and the party flag in his hand? A wrong precedent is being set,” he said.
Singh also said that it was against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated assertions that his government was for the 1.25 crore people of the country as saffron is also the colour of a particular religion. By painting the CM’s office building the government was only trying to divide the society on religious lines.
Congress spokesman Surendra Rajput also called it a symbol of religious politics and said that more than the colour scheme, the government should focus on filling potholes that are dotting the state’s roads. He expressed regret that the government was ignoring more serious governance issues for superficial beauty.
The state’s poor record on communal disturbances was significant as Adityanath Yogi had lambasted his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav and also the Congress whose appeasement policies had emboldened the minority community to take law into their hands. Adityanath made the statement in his speech on communal politics in the Lok Sabha. After taking over as chief minister he said in his farewell speech in the House that there would be no more communal clashes in UP.
Like his assertions that his government will put an end to goonda raj, this assurance too has had little impact.