I was recently listening to a debate in Lucknow University. An activist from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) said, “Hum mandir ke bahar bheek maang lenge lekin rozgaar ki baat nahi karenge”. This from a literate, educated person. And that is all you need to know about today’s Uttar Pradesh.
In Lucknow University, the culture of debate and discussion has taken a hit. LU has consistently been denying permission to students for organising seminars and open house discussions.
They demand a fee for allowing such events. Where will college students find Rs. 5,000 or Rs. 10,000? Sometimes they tell us that our posters are not acceptable, or there’s a problem with the name of the event. We are made to run from pillar to post to secure permission. Even when the permission is granted, there’s no guarantee that it would not be cancelled at the last minute.
ABVP members have been beating up, harassing and eve-teasing students across UP, but no one seems to take notice; because they have the government’s support. They have been distracting students from talking about real issues, from asking questions. People in power today are not used to hearing opposing views, and that’s why they are not good leaders.
The less said about UP Police the better. Police told parents of the Hathras victim that their girl was not missing, that she might have run away. They are the reason why the Unnao rape victim had to protest outside police stations, because her FIR hadn’t been registered. They are responsible for another victim killing herself. They ask you your caste and religion and then decide if they want to register your complaint. How many more examples of bad governance does one need?
Women protesters were character-shamed by police during the antiCAA-NRC protests. The policemen caned and harassed women, when they don’t have the authority to even touch us. The government has built Pink Booths, but they are always empty because there are few police women who can be deployed.
BJP and RSS don’t consider women equal to men. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said women should stay at home and cook, while Uma Bharti went on record to say that women should have 10 children; because people with an “anti-female” mindset are sitting in our most powerful offices today, it’s always women who are questioned and blamed. When will you ask boys why they were out late, why they harassed someone?
Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah came to Lucknow and said that crime had taken a dip in UP. Ask women if they believed him. It’s honestly time. Ab Uttar Pradesh walo ko Yogi nahi yogya mukhya mantri chahiye. Yogiyon ko waise bhi math mei hi rehna chahiye. We want someone who recognises the talent of youth, and gives them opportunities to grow. Someone who ensures employment. We need a government which doesn’t allow papers of selection tests to get leaked, which doesn’t sit on vacancies for years and which doesn’t end quota.
Someone who doesn’t know how to use a laptop will never distribute laptops to students. Have you ever seen our CM say anything positive or creative to the people? A person who has a narrow vision cannot run the government.
The government has promised a lot under Skill India, but the ground realities are different. Loans aren’t sanctioned because procedures are too complicated. Not everyone has the documents asked for. Instead of helping those in need, this government is focused on limiting options for the poor. They’ve excluded kerosene oil and mustard oil from free ration. How are the poor supposed to eat?
We need accountability. Tell us the employment you can generate from Jewar airport, tell us who the investors are. Tell us who you are building the airport for? For yourself, to fly away to a foreign country yet again?
The condition of government schools is so pathetic that they’re being replaced by private schools. And it’s obvious that this government doesn’t want people to be educated. Otherwise, who will instigate riots for them? Who will troll people for Rs. 2 a tweet?
Only in UP can you tell a couple happily married for a decade and more that the wife is oppressed because she decided to convert. Love Jihad, anti-Romeo squad, and any kind of moral policing that this government brings in, is only to trap and persecute innocent people. Does anyone know where the office for the anti-Romeo squad is? How many cases has it registered? Which rulebook does it follow? Where is it when women are being eve-teased or raped? Or was it brought in only to harass brothers-sisters and husband-wives in Hazratganj?
This isn’t the Uttar Pradesh of my dreams. In the Uttar Pradesh of my dreams, farmers won’t have to beg for the right price for their crops; women will have dignity and safety, they’ll have the freedom to live according to their own will. No one will tell them who to love and no one will stop them from studying. No one will handcuff them after snatching their laptops. The youth will be assured of employment. Senior citizens will receive pension on time.
In the UP of my dreams, people will not die because of oxygen shortage or lack of treatment. Private hospitals won’t fleece people. People won’t have to put in sifarish to conduct the last rites of their loved ones. The government won’t celebrate anna and vaccine utsav after thousands died of hunger and in the pandemic.
Till when will this government keep recalling Muzaffarnagar riots and kar sevaks? How long will they curse the past and keep nightmares alive? What is their vision for the future?
Now that the elections are round the corner, we know what the state government will do. The Deputy CM has already shifted his focus to Mathura. The CM never stopped talking about topi, lungi, abba jaan, chacha jaan, shamshan and kabristan. Because that is the only politics they know.
And if things don’t go according to them, if there isn’t enough crowd at BJP rallies and if opposition rallies are teeming with people, then what? Omicron will become a dangerous variant. Rallies will be cancelled. Elections will be deferred.
Yogi Adityanath has called the youth of UP unqualified. This time hopefully they will avenge this insult. We gave them the chair, we can take it back. For this time, it’s a battle of ideologies and the youth will either vote for Gandhi or Godse.
(Pooja Shukla is a former Vice President of Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha and wishes to contest the upcoming assembly election)
(As told to Garima Sadhwani)
(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)
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