Far from fulfilling his oft repeated proclamations about converting his bete noire former chief minister Mayawati's [ Images ] dream projects -- the multi-billion parks and memorials -- into hospitals and institutions, Uttar Pradesh [ Images ] Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav appeared to be following her very footsteps.
The most glaring example of the Samajwadi Party government virtually aping their most hated political foe Bahujan Samaj Party came with the laying of the foundations of a 367-acre park in Lucknow [ Images ].
And much like Mayawati who named her parks after different dalit icons, this giant park in one corner of the state capital has been named after a prominent Samajwadi Party leader Janeshwar Misra, who passed away about a year ago.
Akhilesh's "dream project" was nearly four times the size of Mayawati Ambedkar park cum memorial. According to Lucknow Development Authority records, the Ambedkar Park cum memorial was spread over an area of about 125 acres, while an adjoining park called Ambedkar Vihar Phase I and and Phase II were spread across an area of 85 acres.
Even the giant sized 'Manyavar Kanshi Ram Ji Green Eco Garden' and the Kanshi Ram memorial (built on the debris of the demolished Lucknow district jail) together constitute about 225 acres.
Soon after the formation of the SP government, party chief Mulayam Singh's younger brother and multi-portfolio minister Shiv Pal Yadav was busy advocating, "A lot of government land has been grabbed in the name of parks and memorials; but we would put this land to good use by utilising the vacant land for building hospitals and institutions."
Asks BSP's vociferous spokesperson Sudheendra Bhadoria, "Well, I would like to ask the young chief minister why he has suddenly abandoned his plans to build hospitals and educational institutions instead of parks; after all both he and his father ran a non-stop campaign against the parks and memorials dedicated by Behen Mayawati ji to those great social reformers whose contribution to Indian society was systematically ignored through the decades."
He further sought to point out, "Initially, both Mulayam Singh Yadav [ Images ] and Akhilesh Yadav went about declaring that that they would pull down those memorials; subsequently, they said they would convert the parks and memorials into hospitals and institutions." And went on to ask, "Isn't it a matter of shame that now they have found it convenient to acquire a huge chunk of government land for the purpose of building a park in the name of their own party leader, who was incomparable to personalities like Babasaheb Ambedkar or Manyavar Kanshi Ram?"
Interestingly, reacting to all the criticism by SP leaders at that point of time, Mayawati had said, "If the Samajwadi Party government is keen to build hospitals and educational institutions in parks, then why don't they use the large chunk of land on which they have laid the Ram Manphar Lohia Park?"