Why Yogi Adityanath wants to paint Uttar Pradesh saffron

The ochre has become a defining feature in anything and everything.

 |  4-minute read |   13-10-2017
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Ever since a saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister of India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, the ochre has become a defining feature in anything and everything.

Precisely six-and-a-half months in office, he has made no bones about his craving to give everything in his government a saffron hue. It began with the chairs he occupies in each of his offices or home, where change of upholstery was the first task to be carried out. Even the towel hanging on the sofas he uses are of this very colour.

The first time his obsession was demonstrated in the colour of the "pandal" (tent) for a public function, where he gave away loan waiver certificates to farmers. Together with the "pandal", even the certificates had a saffron hue.

And in their bid to prove that they were more loyal than the king, officials engaged in his propaganda machinery promptly ensured that the slings attached with media passes were also saffron.

What was also done simultaneously was that all government hoardings displaying Yogi's achievements or announcements were also made in the same colour. Even the annual diary published by successive governments to make available the list of ministers, senior bureaucrats and other important officials, to all and sundry, was brought out in saffron this time.

It was therefore, no surprise on Wednesday, when he flagged off a set of 50 saffron-coloured buses to commute in the rural hinterland of the state. The special service called "sankalp sewa", introduced by the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC), is essentially meant to carry passengers to remote rural areas where there is no other mode of transport.

saffron690_101317011633.jpgThe buses flagged off by chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Flagged off from an especially erected saffron stage just outside the chief minister's official Kalidas Marg residence in Lucknow, even the balloons hanging out of the bus windows were of the same colour. "More such buses would be flagged out for the benefit of our rural population, for whom fares have also been subsidised," said an official spokesman.

The colour was in keeping with the chief minister's fad for the same, which is amply visible all over the Gorakhpur-based Gorakhnath temple over which he lords as the "mahant" even after assuming the constitutional office of chief minister.

Shortly after Yogi Adityanath rode on to the hot seat, he ordered distribution of saffron bags to primary school-going children, who were found using red and green bags given by his Samajwadi Party predecessor Akhilesh Yadav. The young Yadav had got the bags painted with his own portrait as well as that of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

On completion of 100 days in office, when the state information department came out with a booklet, it made it a point to make it saffron. Thereafter, each and every publication brought out on behalf of different government departments has been in just one colour - that is saffron.

yogi1690_101317012132.jpgAdityanath distributes loan waiver certificates.

The tradition of using the party's insignia colour in official publications or at official events was started by the Mayawati regime after she became chief minister for the first time in 1995. She would make it a point to ensure that the "pandal" of each of her public functions was in her party's blue. Official publications, including the information department's diary was also in that colour. She really went overboard with her fad by even changing the colour of the road dividers to blue and white - against the internationally accepted yellow and black.

Thereafter, every party that came to power made it an unwritten rule to switch colours. Mulayam and his son Akhilesh gave everything a red and/or green tinge. Sure enough, each time there was a change of guard between BSP and SP, the state skyline would witness a change of colours.

However, Yogi clearly took the cake in keeping the tradition kicking, when he got Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give away especially painted saffron cycle-rickshaws to the poor during his last visit to his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi.

Asked to comment on this fad for the saffron colour, cabinet minister and the government's spokesman Shrikant Sharma told mediapersons, "Well it is sheer coincidence that buses are saffron in colour; we have no objection against any other colour, but surely saffron is our most favourite because it represents tyaag, balidaan aur shaurya (sacrifice and bravery)." He hastened to add, "Even the national flag has saffron. Why all the fuss over our choice of saffron?"

Also read: Yogi Adityanath is as clueless about Ayodhya temples as he is about governance


Sharat Pradhan Sharat Pradhan @sharatpradhan21

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst based in Lucknow.

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