By Ruchi Bambha:
If my memory serves me right, it was about two to three years back that I had heard about the Saifai Mahotsava (though it dates almost sixteen years back); an annual event conducted by the Samajwadi party in the Etawah district, in memory of Ranbir Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s late nephew. The event is organized every year to commemorate Ranbir Singh’s wrestling skills and to promote local sports talent in the state and the nation as well. However, the catch in television and newspapers so far was the number of Bollywood celebrities and corporate hotshots who graced the occasion and the news about aspiring sports-persons somewhere subsided. The event became a platform where the politicians would showcase their acquaintance with the cine stars.
Coming to the present scenario, there are exactly two sharply contrasting pictures that we can witness in Uttar Pradesh. At one end, there are multiple Bollywood celebrities like Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit etc. shaking their legs to entertain the politicians and their kinship, and not to mention to promote their respective movies, and on the other end, there are many impoverished people in ill maintained refugee camps trying to survive the winter. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these two settings are very close to each other and by saying that, what I intend is that the two facets of Uttar Pradesh, the funereal relief camps and the jubilant fiesta mahotsav sites, are not very far off . Now, to all of us, it would strike how can the ruling government alias the Samajwadi Party be so indifferent to the plight of the impoverished souls? Why has the party made no efforts for proper accommodation of people and instead chooses to resort to its own merriment? Perhaps, the laments from the hungry souls are too feeble to cut across the songs being played in Etawah district and thus those cries fail to reach these deaf ears. Does it make sense? Of course not. One would also sense that Akhilesh Yadav’s government is trying to conceal the pathetic of one section of society by showcasing the conviviality of the other.
The Uttar Pradesh government claims that they have provided 90 crores for the rehabilitation of Muzzaffarnagar riot victims. However, we see no improvement in their current situation. Instead, what we all see is that the government is trying to demolish those camps, taking away the victims’ only support system. The news is that more than 100 crores have been invested in hosting the Mahotsava. The corporate honchos and Bollywood celebrities stayed in seven star hotels while the riot victims braced their will to fight the chilly winter in their infirm bivouac.
We all know that the job of entertainers is to entertain the masses and as a matter of fact, they did their job well. But can we exonerate them from being the perpetrators of crime towards the victims? Can we say they have no role to play in preserving humanity or in “being human”. They must have had the knowledge about the pitiable conditions of the victims but they preferred to serve the other end instead.
When Akhilesh Yadav took over as the party chief, I thought that as an educated young leader, he would certainly analyze well the loopholes of the party and would work towards development and bridging the gap between the privileged and under-privileged. To my disappointment but not shock, a series of instances like the suspension of IAS Durga, the Muzzaffarnagar riots and now the government’s apathetic stance on the pitiable condition of the riot victims has left all of us to doubt the credibility of such an authority in state.
Has the party totally distanced itself from humanity? We, as a nation, take pride proclaiming ourselves as a secular democratic nation. What if the people vote for the wrong government? Do they have to bear the brunt in this manner? Is politics in our country only a game of maximization of votes before election and indifference towards the voters thereafter? Humanity has surely been murdered by the hands of wealth, power, nepotism and greed. I browse through social networking sites and see many NGOs pleading people to donate blankets, quilts and clothes for the unfortunate lot in Muzzaffarnagar and then I see TV and newspapers reflecting the merrymaking going in the Etawah district where the government is draining away the taxpayers’ money. Not to mention we are not against rewarding sportsmen of our country, but of course we are against the mismanagement of government funds and the UP government’s cold shoulder towards the riot sufferers.
Saifai Mahotsava has surely lost its cause as an event of preservation of culture and promotion of talent as soon as it turned into a star studded party. This transition is echoing the lost cause of the Mahotsava which is further echoing the lost cause of humanity.