How past governments in UP built White Elephants, turned “socialism” into a money-making machine


The construction of the Jayaprakash Narayan International Convention Centre complete with a helipad on top and an all-weather swimming pool inside, at the cost of Rs.650 Crores is another example of “New Socialism” ushered in by modern socialist rulers

Uttar Pradesh , population wise ,is the biggest state of the union and is bracing itself for the coming assembly elections with all the major political parties starting to flex their muscles. All these political dispensations were voted to power ,in the past, with full majority to serve the people of the state. How much they served the people and how much they served themselves is a tragic story. This has been the narrative of almost all the parties through these decades. We all know that we are a secular and socialist country and these  words form a part of the preamble of our constitution . There are many political parties who profess and practice different ideologies and follow policies advancing on the free-market path but there are a few who have even  included the term “socialist” in their party’s name which suffices for their proclaiming  themselves to be socialist in thought and action.

But their socialism  has also traversed many miles and has changed its colours which have nothing in common with the “socialist” ideology except perhaps how the world is spelled. In Uttar Pradesh such a political outfit   has been  in power many times and had a government with full majority only about five years ago. Earlier, also the party had occasion to rule Uttar Pradesh from time to time  so its performance over the past three decades vis-à-vis it’s proclaimed ideology will be worth a mention.

We shall take up the latest model of this ideology ,as it exists in a state governed, several times, by the blue-blooded Indian socialists. Since successive governments have always understood law and order to mean in-laws and disorder, the heights scaled in nepotism and maladministration need not be discussed, being common factors.

Ram Manohar Lohia Park in Lucknow (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@Mika0562)

A look at the concrete achievements, or rather reinforced concrete achievements, as, primarily these are constructions, would be necessary and sufficient, as in mathematical formulations ,to prove the point . It seems like these socialists are more in tune with the thought process of our past colonial masters who went on building gates  to commemorate particular events . Following their  footsteps , our indigenous sons of the soil,  Dhartiputra socialists, also constructed prominent “Dwars” to usher in socialism in Uttar Pradesh costing several Crores. Whether socialism entered the state through this gate or went out it is difficult to tell in the absence of witnesses, but it is widely known that money did enter well known deep pockets.

The construction of the Jayaprakash Narayan International Convention Center complete with a helipad on top and an all-weather swimming pool inside, at the cost of Rs.650 Crores is another example of “New Socialism” ushered in by modern socialist rulers . The ultra-modern five-star facilities created in this convention centre for holding socialist  discourses to improve the ill-starred pathetic conditions in the state is based on whose ideology , God only knows.  This regime had developed a park in the name of their revered leader ,possibly as a substitute for world renowned parks at a whopping cost of several hundred Crores, with provision for Venice style canals for Gondola rides, and ,for a breath-less view of the state Capital, Lucknow Eye, London style. Their ideologue’s, strong anti- cricket views notwithstanding ,the full majority socialist government ensured construction of a massive stadium for holding  international level cricket tournaments at a cost of several hundred Crores, a sum large enough to provide over thousands of playgrounds in the rural areas. This kind of socialistic footprint is writ large over several years of their rule.

The building of cycle-tracks is another example of their ill-conceived priorities in the name of socialism to create facilities for down trodden using the poor man’s mode of travel , the cycle . These cycle tracks were built at lightning speed , not only in the capital city but in many cities across the state at an exorbitant cost of thousands of crores . They are not only lying unused for years but they had to be dismantled at some places like in Lohia path , thus causing huge loss to the public exchequer. At almost all places ,in every city , cycles are absent in these  ubiquitous tracks which were built by their young socialist leader. Surely this amount could have come handy to ameliorate many of the day- to- day problems faced by the proletariat. Clearly in this kind of socialism, there is no place for the poor and deprived sections of the population. The life-style of its leaders and members is generally bourgeoisie, barring  few exceptions, with the declared wealth of many, exceeding that of many  industrialists. Their mansions reflect crude money power, and not Marxist thought. It seems likely that people moving in luxury cars build bicycle tracks,  only to recycle the money, from the public treasury, into their pockets. James Orwell had presciently stated years ago 'The worst advertisement for socialism are its adherents'.

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(Vijay Shankar Pandey retired from the Indian Administrative Service. He has an established record of raising his voice against corruption in public life. Views expressed are exclusive to India Narrative and are personal)