The land of monuments can now be termed as the land of advertisements. At a time when the state of Uttar Pradesh is reeling under financial crisis with a deficit of Rs. 4,132 crores, the SP is busy spending crores of rupees for its national convention. It also comes at a time when the state is facing severe power crisis and the city is illuminated with all the glitz at every nook and corner.
The city has been decked up with festoons, billboards, banners and even with LED screens hailing the top Samajwadi Party leadership on the occasion of its three-day national convention that started on October 8, coinciding with 22 years of party’s formation. Popular places like Hazratganj and Gomtinagar have almost literally been plastered with billboards and hoardings on both sides of the streets.
Walls in the historic 200-year-old Hazratganj market have been defaced with posters and graffiti with catchy slogans. At some places, the hoardings are 20 feet long.
The half a kilometer road, which begins from chief minister’s residence has been turned into the gateway to the convention with flags and giant posters being put up at footpaths and dividers.
The recent victories in by-elections have added more extravaganzas to the show, with around 15,000 delegates of the party expected to attend the convention. However, even the municipal authorities in Lucknow, which looks after putting up of the hoardings and billboards, are clueless about this issue as they have no information regarding this matter. “In this case, Samajwadi Party workers themselves are hiring private contractors in putting up the advertisement hoardings,” said an official.
Mayor Dr. Dinesh Sharma dodged the questions and said he is busy with Maharashtra assembly elections campaign for the Bhartiya Janta Party.
The SP was earlier tight lipped about the cost of this grand affair but later Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav himself clarified that the entire expenditure is borne by the party through donations.
Some party workers felt the same amount could have been donated to state exchequer or used it for developmental purposes. The three day gala is being held at the Rs. 350 crore Janeshwar Mishra Park, named after the veteran socialist and founder of the Samajwadi Party.
For Lucknow residents, the event has brought back the memories of the extravagant shows that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) used to put up, when in power, to celebrate birth anniversaries of its icons and birthdays of its chief Mayawati.
(Uzair Hasan Rizvi is a freelance journalist and a journalism student at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India. You can follow him on Twitter at @rizviuzair )