Lucknow: Ayodhya may be the centre of Uttar Pradesh’s kamandal politics but these days it is in news for a signboard outside a PWD guest house, which is serving as the official camp office of the Ayodhya District Magistrate (DM), and its colour change twice over three days.
The official residence of the Ayodhya DM has been under renovation since September 2021. So, the current incumbent, Nitish Kumar, has been staying at the PWD guest house.
But over the past three days, a signboard outside this guest house has become the subject of a row over its colour, which changed from the original saffron to green to red (now).
On 2 March, the saffron signboard outside the office was found painted green. Its viral pictures led to rumour mongering and a tussle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its rival Samajwadi Party (SP). While those in favour of the BJP called it a conspiracy against the ruling party, SP leaders alleged that signboards of some buildings in Ayodhya had been painted saffron months after the Yogi Adityanath government came to power in 2017.
Saffron is the BJP symbol while red is the colour of the Samajwadi cap.
Amid the row over the pictures and questions over the timing of the move — UP assembly election results are due on 10 March — the signboard was found painted in red early Thursday.
कल हरा,आज लाल, गज़ब बा हाल। pic.twitter.com/3OVkLVy005
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) March 3, 2022
Moreover, DM Kumar ordered an inquiry in the case Thursday, which was conducted by PWD officials. And the probe was completed within a day.
On Friday, Kumar suspended PWD junior engineer Ajay Kumar Shukla, who was found “guilty” of negligence, an official from the DM’s office confirmed to ThePrint.
Speaking to ThePrint, Kumar said the first change came to “retain the old colour of all the PWD signboards, which is green”.
The PWD signboards across the state are green, in accordance with the PWD theme — cooler green is preferred from the aspect of traffic management, as it doesn’t influence a driver’s action.
Asked if rumours led to a second colour change within a day, Kumar said the move to the “previous colour to end confusion”.
However, pictures show that the latest version of the signboard is considerably different from the one that existed before 2 March.
The first change from the saffron colour signboard to green provoked reactions from BJP supporters.
Ramesh Das, a priest at the ancient Hanumangarhi temple of Ayodhya, criticised the move, calling it a conspiracy against the BJP, and demanded action against the DM and other officials, according to a Dainik Bhaskar report.
Speaking to ThePrint, SP’s Ayodhya unit district president Ganga Singh Yadav said that while all the signboards used to be green in colour, some outside PWD and other buildings had been painted saffron after the Yogi Adityanath government came to power.
“Till the first few months of the Yogi Adityanath government after it took charge in 2017, bureaucrats had been functioning in a fair manner. However, after that, the colour of the signboards of some of the buildings was changed from green to saffron,” he said.
“This was especially done by those officials who were overzealous to impress the government. Jaise jaise Yogi ka jalwa badhta gya, bhagwa bhi badhta gaya (as Yogi’s influence grew, so did the saffron colour),” he added.
Bureaucracy sees change in government? SP thinks so
Meanwhile, an optimistic Samajwadi Party sees signs of change even in a clean-up drive in Lucknow.
In the state capital, houses lining up the Vikramaditya Marg, where former CM and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, and former SP minister Azam Khan once stayed, are witnessing a clean-up drive that began some 15 days ago.
Even the SP government’s pet projects, Lohia Park and Janeshwar Mishra Park, are being cleaned up by PWD officials.
SP chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told ThePrint that the bureaucracy is sensing a change in the government, which is the reason behind such clean-up drives.
However, PWD officials termed the clean-up as regular maintenance work.
N.K. Verma, executive engineer-2 (civil), who is in-charge of the maintenance work in the area, said only small repair and maintenance work was happening. Asked about SP’s view, he said “such work keeps happening all the time”, and the “media was only misrepresenting things”.
Source: The Print