Politics

You Can Favour Your Own People Too, Akhilesh Tells Adityanath Government Over Awards Controversy

After allegations of favouritism over the awards, which carry a one-time payment of Rs 11 lakh and a lifetime monthly pension of Rs 50,000, the SP leader encouraged the current BJP government to do the same.

Akhilesh Yadav. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The UP government’s Yash Bharti awards – which are meant to “generate social awareness in the society, and come with a one-time payment of Rs 11 lakh and a lifetime monthly pension of Rs 50,000 – do not have any particular process of application or selection, with many awardees linked to the Samajwadi Party. An RTI application has revealed that the awards are instead an exercise in patronage, Indian Express reported.

The nomination details of 142 of the nearly 200 winners between 2012 and 2017 revealed that about 21 winners sought the awards for themselves by writing directly to the chief minister’s office, even though the culture department is officially in-charge of the awards.

According to Indian Express, Samajwadi Party leaders recommended at least six of the winners, while two were recommended by a former minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government. Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times‘s Resident Editor in Lucknow, also “endorsed” three of the winners.

Responding to the allegations of favouritism, Akhilesh said that the current BJP government in UP should also favour its own people, according to ANI.

The awards were introduced in 1994 by Mulayam Singh Yadav, but were discontinued during the Bahujan Samaj Party and BJP rules.

While Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary has claimed that each and every winner was selected “by a high-level committee after due process,” what this “due process” was remains unclear.

According to Indian Express – which filed the RTI – the current Adityanath-led government is reviewing the awards, particularly the lifetime pension provision.

UP’s culture minister Lakshmi Narain Chaudhary, whose department has demanded a review of the awards, said, “There is some thinking within the government on the Yash Bharti awards and pensions but we have not taken any decision [on whether to scrap them].”

Addressing a rally in Azamgarh, Akhilesh said: “They are saying that Samajwadi Party has given Yash Bharati Award to some of their people. I would like to say that even you should favour your own people and give the awards, nobody is stopping you.”

“We gave Rs. 11 lakh and 50 thousand monthly pensions, your government is at Centre too, you ensure at least Rs 1 lakh monthly pension to Yash Bharati awardees.”

The Rs 4.66 crore appropriated for the pensions for 2017-18 has, however, not been spent yet.

“The BJP wants to stop every good work done by our government,” Rajendra. “Yash Bharti was to felicitate personalities from different fields.”

Following are some of the awardees:

  • A 2013 awardee Ashok Nigam who described himself as “an author of socialist ideology” had claimed in his CV that the was the executive editor of SP’s magazine Samajwadi Bulletin.
  • Kashinath Yadav, national president of the Samajwadi Party Cultural Cell.
  • Maninder Kumar Mishra, the son of SP leader Murlidhar Mishra, has written books on socialism, including Samajwadi Model ke Yuva Dhwajwahak: Akhilesh
  • Ratish Chandra Agrawal, officer on special duty with the chief minister, who recommended his own name to the culture department.

(With agency inputs)