New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath flex their muscles on the third edition of International Yoga Day at Lucknow today, the UP government left no stones unturned to ensure the event is successful, even putting its officers on full-time duty to mobilise people from all over the state.
The AYUSH ministry had claimed that an estimated 51,000 people from UP would participate in the function along with Modi and Adityanath. The chief minister and UP governor Ram Naik apparently personally oversaw all the arrangements for the mega event and attended full dress rehearsals on June 19.
The official investment, especially in terms of human resources, required to do this has been unprecedented. In an order dated June 7, UP’s transport secretary Ravindra Nayak issued a letter to various district officials to deploy one transport department official and one security guard on each bus that would bring passengers to Lucknow for the event.
The order noted that the decision to put state transport department officials on full-time duty to mobilise participants for the event was taken at a meeting that was presided over by the AYUSH ministry joint secretary Anurag Srivastava on May 23.
“…mukhya karyakarm ke din pratibhagiyon ke parivahan hetu uplabhdh karayi jaane wali pratyek 10 bason par parivahan vibhaag ka ek adhikari tatha pratyek bus mein parivahan vibhaag ka ek sipahi ya guard ko tainaat kiya jaaye jisse pratibhagiyon ko laane-le-jaane mein kisi prakaar ki asuvidha ka saamna na karna pade (on the day of the main event, arrangements to deploy one transport department officer for every ten buses and one guard each on every bus should be made to ensure comfortable transit of participants.),” the order reads.
A total of 110 officials across various districts of UP were instructed by Nayak to make due arrangements for the event.
A transport department official in Azamgarh said that he has never seen such meticulous planning for one event.
“The officials are all working overtime to meet the chief minister’s demands. I do not know whether it is right of him to to use transport department officials and government resources for a function like this,” the official told The Wire on the condition of anonymity.
“Our job is not to attend to the whims of a minister but to work towards the betterment of public transport in our districts. We only hope that the state government retains its enthusiasm after the event and revives the state’s public transport system, which is one of the worst in India and lies in the worst possible shape at present,” he added.
Indeed, the state of infrastructure in the country’s most populous state is abysmal by any given standard. “In such a context, the government’s unilateral order to the transport department to work outside its mandate may not instil much confidence among officials,” he said, adding that the department has been severely short staffed for many years and none of the recent governments has done anything about it.
While such an unapologetic use of government resources and officials for the function may serve the BJP’s political agenda, in which yoga has been of great significance, many government officials view the heavy expenditure on International Yoga Day as an excess in a state that remains among India’s poorest.