- Nearly twenty-five percent of the 204 million million residing in Uttar Pradesh is placed below the poverty line. India’s most populous state (95,000 square miles or 246,000 sq km) can be the world’s fifth biggest country in terms of size. According to a report in the Economist, “UP’s economy would only be the size of Qatar, a tiny oil-rich state of fewer than 2 million people. That makes it poor on a per person basis. Despite India’s two decades of rapid growth, Uttar Pradesh’s GDP per head is close to that of Kenya.”
- Statistically one third of the UP population is illiterate. But in real terms the number could be much higher because thousands of people manage fake educational degrees in the state for a price.
- As per the report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2014-15, UP tops the list of states in terms of crime against women.
- Fifty of the 75 Uttar Pradesh districts have been declared drought-hit and revenue collection exercise stands suspended in them till next year March.
- Reports of debt-ridden farmers consuming rat poison or hanging themselves by trees are common in UP. According to the NCRB report of 2013-14, as many 63 farmers ended their lives during this period. There is no official data for the current year, but the deficit monsoon has aggravated the woes of the farmers.
- The state has been reeling under acute power crisis. Forget the villages, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi constituency or Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli do not have access to uninterrupted power supply. While the Centre has blamed the state for the crisis, the Akhilesh Govt has put the blame on the Modi government, accusing it of not supplying enough coal for power generation plants set up in the state.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]ake any yardstick of development or social mobility index, and Uttar Pradesh presents a picture that would not even make a diehard supporter of Samajwadi Party (SP) proud of the achievements of the Akhilesh Yadav government. But even as farmers continue to embrace death and patients die in hospitals for want of doctors and medicines; even as gun-wielding criminals make a mockery of the rule of law, and contractor-politician-bureaucratic nexus bleeds dry the resources of the state, the SP’s supreme commander, the highest ranking living Lohiaite, and the so-called messiah of minorities and the poor, His Excellency Mulayam Singh Yadav, holds his birthday bash with 76 candles, a 76 kg cake and a Rs.100 crore ($15 million) feast!
For a person who rose to fame by riding the Mandal bandwagon and posturing to be the savior of the backward classes and the minorities, Mulayam indulging in such extravaganza would put to shame even the most flamboyant of Bollywood stars or starlets or top honchos of industries. A man who started his life as school teacher and indulged in wrestling to earn the sobriquet of “pehalwan”, Mulayam seemed to have completely lost touch with the reality of the changing India. Gone are the days when voters could be treated as ‘slaves’ and taken for granted. Today, they are quick to punish their role models if they failed to live up to their expectations.
Funny, the man who takes pride in calling himself as a follower of Lohia’s political philosophy turned a blind eye to the suffering of his own masses while he held a gala bash where master composer AR Rahman regaled the audience and Indian, Italian, Chinese and Thai cuisines were served to over 100,000 guests.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he occasion also showcased Mulayam’s clout among the barons of the industry and Bollywood as a large number of them lined up to greet him on turning seventy-six. The man whose party has a humble bicycle as it election symbol, pressed into service a dozen choppers to ferry his guests from Lucknow airport to Saifai, which hosted the mega show. To cap it all, even as the state was battling with a spurt in crime nearly 3000 cops and dozens of senior police officers were deployed to ensure nothing went wrong in Saifai, 260 kms from Lucknow..
His coterie may have sung happy birthday and his cronies might have clapped all the way; those enjoying the free lunch and dinner may have blessed him too, but the political message that the jamboree sent may not do any good to Netaji. The absence of the Muslim face of the SP, Azam Khan, and someone like RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and the presence of Amar Singh has sent mixed signals in political circles. While Muslims are already unhappy with the Samajwadi Party for playing the BJP’s card in Bihar. Azam Khan’s silent rebellion over Amar Singh’s possible re-entry into SP was not likely to help Mulayam in his bid to retain his hold over the minorities. Similarly, Lalu’s boycott of the event has left no one in doubt that the relation between the two family heads (Lalu’s daughter is married to Mulayam’s nephew) are far from sweet and it won’t be a surprise if Lalu campaigned against the SP in the UP assembly polls.
But oblivious of the fact that the ground is fast slipping from under his feet in UP, Mulayam presented the occasion as a brazen display of his power and pelf.
Speaking at an event, Mulayam said that to succeed in public life three things are important – will power, resolve and courage. He forgot to mention the three things that could lead to downfall in public life: profligacy, arrogance, and insensitivity.
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