The Samajwadi Party (SP) government has decided to change the names of eight districts in Uttar Pradesh (UP). This is about to put extra pressure on the already stretched finances of the state government and is also likely to burn a hole in the pocket of the people. Once the name of a district is changed, the government has to change the names of corporations and municipalities, the names of government institutions, schools and colleges on the boards and letter heads among many other things. This, as per officials, will cost the state crores. The people will have to change the registration papers of their properties while there would be no guarantee that such a thing would not happen in the future.
While the cost of creating a new district is around Rs. 1,800 to 2,000 crores, renaming costs somewhere between Rs. 60 and 80 crores. Changing names for petty political one-upmanship is going to cost the public exchequer around Rs. 640 crores which could have wisely been spent on welfare measures that would have fetched the SP more votes in the 2014 General Elections. The districts undergoing name change are the ones that have not got even basic infrastructure like a Collector’s Office in place. Instead of investing in their development the name change is going to waste a lot of money.
When the SP government took over the reins of government in UP, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had claimed that the his government would not act in vengeance against the past regime. But these claims have fallen flat in just a couple of months. The government seems to have made itself busy with just renaming schemes, districts and medical colleges while the law and order situation has become unwieldy. This endeavour of changing names has also had political overtones reaching so far as Delhi; it is claimed that Akhilesh out of gratitude for the package for the state has returned Amethi to Rahul Gandhi with its original name. The SP government is being seen as a clone of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government so far as working and priorities go.
The SP government seems to have made itself busy with just renaming schemes, districts and medical colleges while the law and order situation has become unwieldy. The SP government is being seen as a clone of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government so far as working and priorities go.
Once the SP government was sworn in, it was felt natural that the names of districts created by Mayawati to lure the Dalit voters would be changed. It was the same political motivation at work which had inspired Mayawati. The Mayawati government had named many districts after great Dalit icons but who had no connections with the districts. Now the SP government has restored the names of these districts and through it hopes to consolidate its position at the grass- roots level. The SP had made renaming of districts as one of its electoral planks in the last elections.
Though the government has tried to corner browny points by restoring or changing the names of districts earlier named after Dalit icons like Kanshi Ram, what good it will bring to the masses is unknown. The people are finding themselves in an identity crisis of sorts. Now they will have to change their postal addresses and for this they will have to run from pillar to post in the establishment. More so it is doubtful whether the names will not be changed once the BSP comes to power. The crux is that the politics of names is not doing anybody any good, least of all the common man.
In the Maya regime, the people suffered because public money was squandered on parks and monuments, glorifying the ascendency of a Dalit Chief Minister. Mayawati paid the price and was pushed out of power. The public resentment was harnessed by the SP but the party has failed to live up to the expectations that it had invoked among the people. The young Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has got embroiled in non-issues like names irrespective of the need
to move away from vendetta to development. Long ago the great playwright Shakespeare had remarked, ‘What’s in a name’, but in UP, names seem to have become the key to power and the secret to greatness.