Yogi Adityanath ji, India’s colour is definitely not saffron
New Delhi, Jan 6: If Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to flaunt multi-coloured Modi jackets, his predecessor Manmohan Singh is always associated with the blue-coloured turban.
Talk about the "next generation" of Indian politicians, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is often seen in white khadi kurta and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's robe is always saffron.
It's not just women (in general), who are accused of being particular about colours, our male politicians (as we have stated above) too are "colour conscious". There is nothing wrong in it, till our politicians restrict their love for a particular colour to their respective sartorial choices.
Problem arises when they start imposing their favourite colours on voters as we have seen in the recent times in Uttar Pradesh.
Yogi's love for colour saffron has now become a hot political debate in the nation. First, saffron is not just any other (non-political and innocuous) colour like say yellow or pink. Saffron is the colour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and all right-wing groups. It is also the colour that represents the Hindu religion.
So when the Yogi government gets busy painting buildings in saffron colour in Uttar Pradesh, it is not only an aesthetic blunder (who likes to paint their houses in saffron when we have eye-pleasing colours like white, buttery yellow, sky blue or moody gray to attarct envious looks from neighbours), but also a wrong political message to send signaling further imposition of Hindutva ideology on one and all.
After assuming power in March last year, CM Yogi has pursued the BJP's "saffron" agenda, quite literally. First, he got the Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan in Lucknow, his office, painted in saffron.
Now, the Haj House in Lucknow, used by Muslims as a transit place on their way to pilgrimage in Mecca, is also painted in saffron. Earlier the building had a green-and-white exterior.
The latest saffronisation agenda of Yogi by painting Uttar Pradesh in colour saffron has been vehemently opposed by opposition parties and various Muslim groups.
The priest-turned-politician has taken the BJP's saffronisation mission to another level. Under the 45-year-old's regime, even the official booklets and posters issued by the government's public relations department and ministries have elements of saffron on its pages.
In fact, the towels on the chairs he sits for meetings or conferences are also saffron.
As one building after another in Uttar Pradesh is fast turning saffron, the opposition Samajwadi Party accused the BJP government of indulging in "blatant saffronisation".
"The BJP is a party known for changing colours. It is indulging in these antics only to hide its faults and failures. If the BJP really considers saffron colour as sacrosanct, it should not indulge in politicisation of the colour and blatant saffronisation," SP spokesman Sunil Singh Sajan said.
All India Shia Personal Law Board spokesperson Yasoob Abbas also criticised the move. "What is this? The BJP will paint it saffron, the SP will choose green and the BSP blue...This is politics of colour and should be avoided," he said.
In reply to the barrage of criticism, the BJP stated that painting buildings in saffron is actually a "nationalistic" (another favourite term of the ruling party to fan passion among voters) step, as the Tricolour also has saffron colour in it.
Uttar Pradesh Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mohsin Raza on Friday asked if those opposed to the colour were also opposed to the Tricolour, which also has saffron in it.
"While the decision has been taken by officers, I do not see why it should be opposed... Saffron is a gift of God. It is a colour of happiness. It is the colour of sunrise, which gives light to the whole world," Raza, the lone Muslim member in the Adityanath government, said.
He added, "I have just one thing to say to those who are opposing the colour... would they oppose the National Flag too, which has the same colour?"
To legitimise the government's move, the minister recalled that the Hazratganj market was painted pink and the signboards black during Mayawati's regime. "It is a government office and has been painted in a colour which the officers and staff decided," he added.
In order to douse the controversy, a senior government official said that the Haj House was painted in saffron as painters took inspiration from the adjoining buildings.
"The move was not intentional. The building is being whitewashed. Since our office is situated near the Vidhan Sabha, Lok Bhavan and the Annex, painters were instructed to take inspiration from adjoining buildings and try to match the colour of the outer boundary wall with them," said Haj Committee Secretary RP Singh.
If Yogi's dream of turning Uttar Pradesh into a saffron state materialises, a day is not far away when the ruling BJP will instruct all buildings to have saffron paint across the country.
Maharaj ji (as Yogi is also known as) and the BJP are forgetting that India is a diverse country where people love all colours, cultures, castes, religions, sexuality and people.
Our country is definitely not saffron, as Kamal Haasan had famously said a few months ago, "My colour is definitely not saffron", when he was asked about his political affiliation before he announced his political plunge.
By stating his "colour" (in Haasan's case what is not his preferred colour), the Tamil superstar wanted to convey the message that he is in no way associated with the BJP, which since long has been identified with saffron.
Like Haasan, many Indians also don't associate themselves with saffron. So, it holds no meaning to wash Uttar Pradesh in colour saffron by the BJP government.