Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh), Apr.25 (ANI): Standing at the Anand Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Nehrus, one can't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. Of an era gone by, an era when principled leaders set the agenda for freedom from colonial rule, an era when leaders were educated and had a vision.
Desultory tourists peep into the bedrooms of historical figures like Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and even the guest bedroom kept for Mahatma Gandhi. A small room where CWC meetings were held. This is Allahabad, which once included the constituency of Phulpur from where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as the first Prime Minister of India.
After Nehru, his sister Vijayalakhmi Pandit (not Prime Minister), Lal Bahadur Shastri (PM) and later V.P. Singh (PM) were elected from here. Not far from here, Rae Bareily elected Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister. A few kilometers from there, Amethi elected Rajiv Gandhi (PM). A few kilometers away, Lucknow elected A.B.Vajpayee as Prime Minister. Two other Prime Ministers --
Charan Singh from Baghpat and Chandrashekar from Balia -- were also from Uttar Pradesh.
And, this is the tally only of Prime Ministers. There are other luminaries elected from here...Sonia Gandhi, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sucheta Kriplani, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and so many others.
Today, candidates with criminal records dominate the political spectrum here. According to a social organization -- Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) -- 40 percent of the members of the Legislative Assembly have a criminal background. These unsavory characters walk around with Parliamentary hopefuls, intimidating voters though it is euphemistically called campaigning.
Their names evoke shock and awe among the electorate. Mukhtar Ansari, Arun Shankar Shukla alias Anna, Kadir Rana, Rakesh Pandey, Rizwan Zahir, Jagdish Singh Rana, Vinay Shankar Tiwari, Bhishma Shankar and of course Atiq Ahmed are some of the 'luminaries'.
R.P. Mishra of the Gandhi Smriti Sanstha rues the fall in competency of leaders from Uttar Pradesh, especially Allahabad.
"It is not only saddening, but rather it's completely disappointing. This country does not deserve the type of leadership because this is the country that is known for leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. And you see whatever criticism of Nehru, but you never could question the honesty of the man. Nehru did not do anything for Allahabad, his constituency, as he felt that if he did something for Allahabad, but not for other parts of the country, people would say 'I am favoring'. See that is the kind of leadership that was visible then. unlike Mulayam Singh Yadav who is making an airport at his village (Etah)."
Drive past towns of UP and you can be certain that the biggest and most garish house in the town would belong to a politician whether in power or out of it. Some of them have the audacity to tell you that UP is a land of builders, tracing back their 'building genes' to Mughal rulers. Some of course would want to trace their roots further back to Ayodhya's King Rama.
Ayodhya is a town people remember only at the time of elections. It wakes up to media hordes arriving every once in four years. This reporter went to see the idol of Ram Lalla, which is guarded well...better than probably the country's nuclear secrets. I have entered the White House and the South Bloc without being bodily frisked but here there are five points where one is humiliatingly patted down. One isn't allowed to carry anything inside. Photography is not permitted anywhere around the temple premises. It's not a temple of course. Just a tent with a small, very small statue of baby Rama.
There isn't a brick lying of the Babri mosque. Where did the debris go? Nobody talks about it. Not even the Muslims. The police chowki is now called Ram Janmabhoomi Thana. I spoke with Mohammad Hashim Ansari of the Babri Masjid Reconstruction Committee who is a petitioner in the case since 1949. He lives in the outer periphery of the mosque area and has no hopes of the mosque ever being reconstructed during his life time.
He says, "The Congress Prime Minister Narasimha Rao announced from the Red Fort that the Babri mosque would be reconstructed but nothing happened. In 1992, the BJP said mandir vahin banayenge but, they haven't built it have they? The Congress party demolished the mosque; the BJP took credit for it and now Mulayam Singh who is where he is because of Muslim votes and now he walks around with Kalyan Singh next to him. They are all the same. Turncoats to their own people." Buildings broken and buildings not constructed. Statues demolished and statues erected. That is the story of Uttar Pradesh. Carved pillars that were to be a part of the 'bhavya mandir' have been lying in a courtyard for over ten years. The stone carvers have gone. Tourists come here to take a look at what was promised and what wasn't delivered. An agitation which some claim resulted in over 2000 deaths. It is anybody's guess.
Lucknow, the capital is a megalomaniac's gaudy dream. A replica of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is being constructed which will be a memorial to BSP founder Kanshi Ram. Mayawati's instructions to the builder supposedly are to make it strong enough to stand 500 years. There are statues of her and Kanshi Ram's right in the heart of the city. And there are stone elephants (The party symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party) wherever the eye goes.
There is no stopping her juggernaut. What next? A haathi at Rajpath. Watch this space for more. By Smita Prakash (ANI)