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Pantheon of charlatans
Politics of parks, statues and names – worshipping false gods?

As the ‘Republic of Uttar Pradesh’ enters the final phase of the torturous election process, the politics of parks is likely to aggravate further. Much like the fortunes of battling political parties, Lucknow has witnessed dwindling attention to its parks. While Ambedkar Park came up due to swelling coffers courtesy ‘The Last Passion of Behanjee’ the swanky Lohia Park conceived of during the last days of modern neta ji’s regime is going to seed. Deendayal Park remians neglected, much like the halycon days of the BJP. Political patronage is asking for Nehru and Gandhi, the reason for which is not too difficult to fathom.

Political skullduggery doesn’t end with UP. It extends to nooks and crannies of India, where the ubiquitous presence of statues and samadhis of our “selfless” politicians is startling. These ‘has-beens’ of India might derive fame from lesser known historical events but by embellishing their persona suitably, vote mongers derive identity, even pride from them. Few were surprised when a ‘memorial’ was erected in a posh area of Patna to honour a proclaimed criminal, who was killed by his rivals, namely Brij Bihari. Tamil Nadu had similarly witnessed a resurgence of ‘statue politics’ with the ascension of the DMK to power. Murasoli Maran and Shivaji Ganesan – who were neglected by Jayalalitha – could find their place under the sun under the benign Karunanidhi.

In this Kafkaesque landscape, the politics renaming public landmarks has often been bizarre. Seeking beatification for politicians, names have often come handy.

So as ‘Nehru and Gandhi’ have donned almost every square of the country (minus public toilets, of course), the rise of non-Congress parties have ensured that they also seek to carve out a permanent niche for themselves in public memory.

Kumar Anuj

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