Uttar Pradesh witnesses an unsavoury poster war

Lucknow, May 5 (IANS) New BJP state unit chief Keshav Maurya as Lord Krishna, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati as Hindu goddess Maa Kaali and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as Bollywood cop “Singham” – that’s the unsavoury poster war under way in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically significant state, which goes to the polls early next year.

While some posters, hoardings and pamphlets have the stamp and approval of the parties, the others are a result of overzealous party workers, supporters and local leaders who, in a bid to please and woo the powers that be, are depending on a dash of drama and theatre.

As a result, there were hoardings of BJP’s Maurya in Varansi showing him attired like Lord Krishna in the good ol’ Mahabharatha days when he saved Draupadi from the evil eyes and carnal desires of the Kauravas. Cut to present, Maurya was shown in the hoardings as Krishna trying to stop the Kauravas (Mayavati, Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav) from disrobing Draupadi aka Uttar Pradesh.

The furore thereafter forced Maurya himself to issue a statement decrying the poster’s content and warning party workers against a repeat. BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak too said his party does not believe in such theatrics.

“We not only condemn anything like this but want to tell our enthusiastic workers to focus on the development agenda to win back power in the state,” Pathak told IANS.

In the other case, the four-time chief minister was depicted in a hoarding and other publicity material as Maa Kaali, the fiery Hindu goddess, with one hand holding a sword and the other a chopped head of union Human Resource Development Minister Smirit Irani. Under her feet was RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and on the side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shown seeking forgiveness for the RSS chief’s alleged statement on the need for a rethink on continuing reservations in jobs.

BJP workers created a ruckus on these hoardings that came up at Hathras. An FIR was lodged against two people and the hoardings taken off public places. While there was no official condemnation from the BSP on the matter, party insiders said ‘Behenji’ had asked party workers to “control their zeal” and ensure that her rainbow coalition of Dalits and upper castes, along with Muslims, “is not upset at any cost” as she aims at power once again.

The latest in the poster series depicts Rahul Gandhi as “Singham”, a police officer in a Bollywood flick who smashes gangs and hounds criminals. And so, if Ajay Devgun essayed the role in the film, the political arena has Rahul Gandhi warning his opponents – “robbers of 27 years of UP” – to be careful for Singham was on the way!

This hoarding, put up in Gorakhpur by Congress workers shows Gandhi, in police uniform, showing stick to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Maurya and AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha member Assaduddin Owaisi.

And so, while the high-stake state assembly elections are less than a year away, the stage is already set for a high-decibel, shrill and acerbic campaign ahead!

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)

–IANS

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