Lucknow: Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has allowed thousands of schoolbags emblazoned with images of his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav to be distributed in schools. The extraordinary decision is driven by financial prudence, say officials. Yogi Adityanath didn't want the waste of public money just for "political ego", say officials. Also, the 44-year-old Chief Minister wanted the bags to reach students in time for the new session.
Around 35,000 schoolbags were printed before Akhilesh Yadav lost power in the March election in Uttar Pradesh and the BJP took charge with a record mandate.
Sources say once these schoolbags are distributed, the new batch will simply say "Mukhya Mantri Yojana" or "Uttar Pradesh Yojana"; Chief Minister Adityanath recently decided that no scheme would be named after any person.
In the months leading up to the Uttar Pradesh election, a deluge of schemes was launched with the prefix "Samajwadi", and images of Akhilesh Yadav were used liberally. Some examples are the Samajwadi Smartphone scheme, the Samajwadi Namak (fortified salt) scheme with Akhilesh Yadav photos on salt packets, and plates for schoolchildren with Akhilesh Yadav stickers. The Samajwadi laptops launched in 2012 had Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav as screensavers.
As many as 1.8 crore schoolbags were sanctioned for students from Class 1 to 8 by the Samajwadi government, but midway through distribution, the model code of conduct came into place for the election. Many of the bags were stacked at district education offices as officials waited for the new government to decide on what to do with them.
Sources say Yogi Adityanath weighed the financial implications and decided not to waste the "Akhilesh Yadav bags". But the Samajwadi Party says Yogi Adityanath's gesture has been hugely overrated.
Samajwadi leaders say after Akhilesh Yadav came to power in 2012, he did not remove the statues of his predecessor Mayawati, instead he ordered that all parks set up by her should be protected.