Akhilesh hoardings go - and down: Public money wasted (Election Special)
Soon after the general elections were announced, hundreds of billboards promoting Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and put up across the length and breadth of Uttar Pradesh were dismantled in a tearing hurry.
All of them carried a beaming face of the 41-year-old chief minister -- and details of all the good work his government has supposedly done. They have now disappeared from all the 75 districts.
Informed sources say that after the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha schedule and the model code of conduct came into force, the state's chief electroral officer told the information department to remove all the hoardings of the state government.
"The idea is to allow a level playing field to all political parties and to ensure that the ruling party does not have an undue advantage," said an Election Commission official.
According to the information department, there were 2,010 such hoardings all over the state which spoke of the welfare schemes and development schemes initiated by the two-year-old government. Lakhs of rupees of public money had been spent on buying prime space for these hoardings.
There were five each in each district headquarters and five in different tehsils of every district. Lucknow was home to 120 such publicity signages and hoardings. The rest were in other districts.
Seeking an "immediate and time-bound removal" of all this, Prabhat Mittal, director of the information and public relations department, asked district information officials to comply by the poll panel diktat.
With the fear of the Election Commission writ large, the 2,000 plus hoardings were removed overnight by teams of police, district administration and municipal corporations, assisted by the information department.
Hundreds of hoardings designed by private advertisement agencies have been brought down.
They have, however, been replaced by a similar number of "private" party hoardings in places like the Kanpur Road, Lohia Path, Gomtinagar and Polythecnic square in Lucknow.
These hoardings, poll panel officials say, will be added to the election expenditure of the people whose names appear on them.
Similarly, lakhs of copies of government publicity material in the form of booklets have also been stopped in their tracks. They will not be distributed any more, an official informed.
(Posted on 09-03-2014)