UP civic polls: BJP promises to promote bicycle culture, draws SP criticism
The Samajwadi Party is angry because the BJP’s first-ever manifesto for the civic polls in Uttar Pradesh seems to bank on the Akhilesh Yadav-led party’s election symbol.lucknow Updated: Nov 12, 2017 17:50 IST
Months after it announced that it would demolish bicycle tracks constructed during the Samajwadi Party regime in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling BJP declared on Sunday its plans to promote ‘bicycle culture’ in the state, prompting the SP to demand an apology.
The bicycle, which is also the election symbol of the SP, has found a mention in the first-ever BJP manifesto for civic polls to 16 municipal corporations, 198 nagar palika parishads and 439 nagar panchayats (semi-urban bodies).
In the manifesto, the BJP has promised to set up bicycle stands in various cities from where people will be able to hire bicycles after depositing their identity cards as security.
The 12-page manifesto or the ‘Vijay Sankalp Patra’ (victory commitment) bearing photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah was released by chief minister Yogi Adityanath in the presence of senior ministers and UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey on Sunday.
“We want to win this election as it would help in better coordination and implementation of policies of the Centre and state government. Whether it is the Modi government at the Centre or the UP government, all are committed to transforming the state,” said Adityanath who is scheduled to launch the BJP’s civic poll campaign from Ayodhya on November 14.
“Stands with 20-50 bicycles each in all main areas of the state will be set up from where people can get bicycles after depositing their identity cards,” reads a section of the manifesto on traffic that also promises walking plazas and an integrated traffic management plan in 100 days of coming to power in urban local bodies along with multi-storied parking plazas.
The manifesto, however, did not make it clear if the existing bicycle tracks would be used by the BJP government to promote bicycle culture in the state.
The BJP manifesto instantly kicked up a controversy with the SP seeking an apology from the BJP for its earlier announcement to demolish bicycle tracks constructed by Akhilesh Yadav’s government.
“Those who talked of demolishing bicycle tracks built by our government are now promoting bicycle culture. The BJP must tender an unconditional apology to our leader Akhilesh Yadav as he was the first to think of promoting use of bicycles in the state,” former UP minister Rajendra Chowdhary said.
Bicycle tracks were constructed in Lucknow, Noida and Bareilly by the SP government and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had said his government had plans to develop cycle tracks in all parts of the state.
An ambitious Rs 100 crore bicycle highway was also constructed from Etawah, the home district of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, to Agra.
The BJP manifesto also spoke of ‘pink toilets’ for women at marketplaces, cow shelter in all cities, free sewer connections to Dalits and OBCs, regularisation of illegal colonies, and regularisation of house and water tax.
The party’s manifesto also mentions upgrading ‘anthyasthi sthal’’ (cremation grounds or graveyards). During the Samajwadi Party regime, the BJP had criticised the decision to allocate funds for construction of boundary walls of burial grounds for Muslims by the then urban development minister Azam Khan as “discriminatory”.
The issue was also taken up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an election rally in Fatehpur district in February 2017 ahead of the UP assembly elections where he had accused the administration of discrimination on the basis of religion.
“If you create kabristaan (graveyard) in a village, then a shamshaan (cremation ground) should also be there. If uninterrupted electricity is supplied in Ramzan, it should be also given in Diwali. Bhedbhaav nahin hona chahiye (there should be no discrimination),” Modi had said at the rally.
“They must clear if the plan to upgrade cremation grounds includes Muslim burial grounds too,” an SP leader said.