Lucknow: The BJP’s high-profile immersion of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ashes in rivers has not impressed everyone in Uttar Pradesh. While many feel that the “tamasha” would not have earned the approval of the late leader himself, a small section in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) feels that the event was commensurate with the stature of Vajpayee, who died on August 16.
More than half of the state government was on duty for the “asthi kalash visarjan” on August 23.
There were thousands of posters, banners and hoardings with Vajpayee’s pictures and couplets dotting the landscape of Lucknow, which he represented in the Lok Sabha five times.
Many here feel that the saffron camp was going overboard.
“It is strange, even bizarre,” said an elderly chemist, a self-confessed Vajpayee fan near the Burlington Square when he saw the heavily-guarded cavalcade pass through.
Pointing out how Vajpayee was almost a forgotten “marg darshak” (mentor) of the BJP since he faded away from public life after a paralytic stroke, Amitosh Misra said it was evident that the party planned to gain votes from the display of mass affection.
Bal Krishna Chowrasia, a pan seller at Qaiserbagh, couldn’t agree less. He blamed the ruling party for not only forgetting Vajpayee but also consigning his legacy to the bin — until he died.
“Ye sab natak hai (It is all drama),” he said.
At Jhulelal Park, on the banks of Gomti, a middle-aged rickshaw puller threw rose petals at the urn procession but was amused at the sudden attention the late leader was getting.
A resident of Hardoi, he said: “People say the dead man was better than the present dispensation (Modi).”
A retired bureaucrat who served the Uttar Pradesh government when Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, told IANS that he was both shocked and dismayed at the way the late leader’s remains were paraded.
“It is okay if the BJP wants to mourn its leader and remember him the way they want. But look at how they have painted every corner of the city… We can see the lure of votes.”
“Now they are suddenly remembering Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Until now he was in the dustbin,” said Sachhidanand Gupta, a Lucknow resident.
Kishan Chait, a resident of Mainpuri, also slammed the BJP for turning a sombre affair into another event. A lawyer by profession, he wants the BJP to stop its “event management type of politics”.