Is Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat afraid of the ghost of Shaktiman?
Rawat refused to unveil a statue of the police horse in Dehradun while another erected close to the Vidhan Sabha was hastily taken down on Monday, apparently on the suggestion of astrologers that the statues could bring bad luck to the government, which faces elections in the next six months.
Shaktiman died in April, days after losing a hind leg from a brutal beating, allegedly at the hands of BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi — an incident that led to widespread outrage.
Two statues of the white horse were erected in the state capital — one at the Police Lines, where he was buried, and another near the assembly, at an intersection also named after the animal, after they were cleared by the Rawat cabinet.
The monuments were to be inaugurated before the House started its session in the third week of July.
But on Monday morning, the chief minister cancelled the scheduled inauguration of the statue at Police Lines and the other statue was removed later that night, said police sources.
“Let the next government decide (on unveiling Shaktiman’s statue), we have done our work,” Rawat said.
Offering a possible explanation for the government getting cold feet, Haridwar astrologer Prateek Mishrapuri said, “A statue of a horse without a rider brings bad luck.”
Both the Shaktiman statues were riderless.
This isn’t the first time the 69-year-old chief minister has been accused of being superstitious. He doesn’t reside in his official bungalow, reportedly spooked by rumours that those who do lose their seats. Among the first things he did after winning the May 12 trust vote to return to power was to visit the Siddha Hanuman Dham in Rajasthan and the Kedarnath shrine closer home, said sources.
Taking a dig at Rawat, Joshi — who was arrested for the assault on Shaktiman but let off on bail — said, “The CM was earlier in a hurry to erect statues of Shaktiman. But now, is he afraid of Shaktiman’s ghost?”
A police officer #Shaktiman was fatally injured during his duty and govt.fails to give him his due respect due to superstition#what the hell— Shweta Singh (@shweta11singh) July 12, 2016
Wow. Let's first beat up a police horse so he can die. Then we will erect a statue in his honour #Shaktiman— Gitanjali Das (@GitanjaliMIRROR) July 12, 2016
Now they are playing politics on statue of horse Shaktiman.. Haven't you a got enough on your plate?— b k chowla (@bchowla) July 12, 2016
The CM’s spokesperson Surendra Kumar rejected the speculation, saying, “I don’t want to comment on astrological gossip but let me make it clear that the statue has been removed for some mason work and will be back soon.”
The government’s move drew criticism from some on social media. “A police officer #Shaktiman was fatally injured during his duty and govt fails to give him his due respect due to superstition #what the hell (sic),” tweeted @shweta11singh.