Millennium Post

This land no more belongs to you!

During the period of history known as the middle ages, feudalism was the law of the land. Kings, badshahs and nawabs used to construct magnificent forts, samadhis, makbaras and memorials for their beloved. Their intention was not just to fulfil their desires but to engage various unemployed artisans, craftsmen and drought affected people to work as part of their social responsibility.
The construction of such buildings used to continue for years together. This very fact is historically correct and widely accepted in the present scenario. Today’s democratically elected governments have probably taken a cue from history and hence they are increasingly implementing number of employment guarantee programmes across the country.

History repeats itself! India’s first female dalit chief minister, Bahan Kumari Mayawati, massively engaged the poor population of her state to work. Her commitment to construct memorials had been unflinching as she continued the projects despite all legal wrangles and widespread political criticism.
One may agree that such projects, that involve huge public money, can only be taken up by a stable government. But she had the courage to take up the challenge right in her first full-term  tenure as the 32nd chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP). She served four terms as the chief minister of UP and head of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which focuses on a platform of social change to improve the welfare of the weakest strata of Indian society – the Bahujans or Dalits, Other Backward Classes, and religious minorities.

She was spotted as a potential dalit iron lady by Kanshi Ram. Mayawati was keen to become an IAS officer after completing her education. Kanshi Ram came to know of her oratory skills and exhorted her to join politics and his party BSP, that he founded in 1984. Kanshi Ram assured her that he would make her such a big leader one day that not one but a whole row of IAS officers will line up for her orders. Mayawati’s rise from humble beginnings has been called a ‘miracle of democracy’ by P V Narasimha Rao, former prime minister of India.

Mayawati also possesses an extraordinary quality of fund raising. She is famous for her lavish birth day bashes resulting in sizeable collections in the form of precious gifts and substantial cash. It is also learnt that like Bhimrao Amedkar, she has a desire to convert to Budhism before she takes her last breathe. In a state like UP, the elected governments have started reversing decisions taken by the earlier elected regimes. It is correct as one gets down to analyse the decisions of reversal and corrections taken in the past by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and BSP governments. This is also visible from the frequent announcements of changing the names of districts.

The present Akhilesh Yadav government has since decided to allow social functions including marriages in the memorials built by the previous BSP government for various Dalit icons. Mayawati’s dream projects including memorials and parks in the name of Dalit leaders would now become venues for social functions to be used by public. The marriage ceremonies would also be witnessed by large number of different size elephants (election symbol of the BSP), life size statues of Gautam Buddha, Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram, Bahan Mayawati and others.

The vast green pastures in the memorials are likely to be damaged with thousands of people attending the event. One of the memorials, the magnificent and superb Noida Park, just at the entry point of the national capital city, would definitely attract Delhiites to cross over to Noida to hold their marriage functions resulting in loss to the farm house owners in Delhi. The whole purpose of building these memorials was to calm those mentally tired people, who face the burden of the fast pace urban life. It is also being claimed that Rs 4,188 crore from the state exchequer were spent to construct memorials at Noida and Lucknow. It is a separate issue of debate that the Lokayukta N K Mehrotra has indicted two former ministers; one of them is Nazimuddin Siddiqui – a close aid of Mayawati, for siphoning off the public fund. It is an opportunity to take a stroll of Noida Park over an area of 33.43 hectare, came up close to DND flyway and Mahamaya flyover.  The park has been developed in three parts – the column plaza, the central plaza and the Ambedkar plaza.
The first, Column plaza, consists of several 300 feet high pillars crowned by four headed elephants; the second, Central plaza, has three statues of Mayawati, Ambedkar and one more.  The third, Ambedkar plaza, consists of 12 Dholpur and Mirzapur stone statues brought from Lucknow and 24 pink sand stone elephants.

With mad usage of parks and memorials for public and social gatherings, will it be possible to maintain its beauty and grandeur?

The author is a communication consultant.
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