Why Holi & politics are losing colour in UP (IANS Special)

Lucknow, March 29 (IANS) Holi, in Lucknow, has lost much of its vibrancy and colour — and it is not corona alone that is to blame.

The changing political scenario, hardening of lines in various political parties and increasing acrimony between leaders has robbed the festival of its festivity.

With Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath away in Gorakhpur, his official residence at 5 Kalidas Marg, on Monday, wore a desolate look.

Barring a few security personnel strolling around aimlessly and some peering into their mobile phones, there was almost no activity in the high-security zone.

Yogi Adityanath, since he took over in 2017, has chosen to spend all major festivals in his hometown, Gorakhpur.

Before him, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had also preferred to spend festivals in his native village Sefai, instead of Lucknow.

He left for Sefai on Sunday to celebrate Holi with his extended family.

The chief minister’s residence in Lucknow, once upon a time, used to be the epicenter of all celebrations, particularly Holi.

Former chief ministers, including Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, Veer Bahadur Singh, Narain Dutt Tiwari and even Rajnath Singh, kept an open house on Holi.

Bureaucrats, party workers, leaders and journalists were allowed free access into the chief minister’s residence. Colour flew into the air and snacks were served to all and sundry.

Earlier, during such celebrations, even opposition leaders were seen visiting the chief minister’s residence to exchange greetings.

“Those were the days when the chief minister welcomed everyone with open arms. There were no security checks and everyone was treated with respect. In the present times, it is almost unthinkable that politicians would host such events,” said senior journalist Pradeep Kapoor.

The trend stopped when Mayawati became the chief minister in 1995.

Firstly, she did not believe in celebrating festivals that were ‘Manuwadi’ and she was also paranoid about her security.

“It has never been the same after that. Whether it was Mulayam Singh or Akhilesh Yadav and now Yogi Adityanath — they all stay away on festivals like Holi and their celebrations have become event-managed by the government,” said another journalist who did not wish to be named.

On Monday, while the chief minister was away in Gorakhpur, almost all his ministers also went to their respective constituencies and Lucknow-the seat of power-remained colourless.

The BJP office had few familiar faces around but all senior leaders were missing in action.

The Samajwadi Party also wore a desolate look since Akhilesh and Mulayam were away in Sefai.

The gates of the BSP office, like every other day, remained firmly locked and there were no signs of any celebrations here.

The scene at the Congress party office also reflected the mood in the party that is presently locked in bitter infighting.

Party workers, in the past, used to play Holi in the party office and mingled happily with each other. There was no such scene this year.

Political analysts feel that this also reflects in the new political system that is developing without any link between the leaders and workers.

“The bonhomie that leaders shared with workers — many of whom were known by names to their leaders — has gone missing. The affectionate bond has snapped and political parties are now functioning like corporate houses. This may work for some time but in the long run, it will hamper the growth of political parties,” said Dr S.K. Dikshit, a retired professor of political science.

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