Yogi govt wants to ‘sell off’ Allahabad’s Kumbh Mela to corporates

An advertisement by the Uttar Pradesh government carried in national newspapers on Thursday invited bids for Corporate Social Responsibility and partnerships for Kumbh Mela

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NH Photo
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Bhasha Singh

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-state government in Uttar Pradesh is now focusing on the Kumbh Mela to provide a solid foundation to its pet Hindutva agenda. The state chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, has now started giving away the logo of one of the largest religious congregation to various foreign dignitaries. The advertisement by the Uttar Pradesh government published in the national newspapers on Thursday invited bids for Corporate Social Responsibility and partnerships for Kumbh Mela.

It is possibly for the first time that a state government of India has issued an advertisement calling for CSR contribution for a religious gathering.

For a few months, there was a buzz around this in the Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy. There were mild protests too. But when the Uttar Pradesh Prayagraj Mela Authority Bill, was passed in the assembly on Dec 22 last year, despite various protests and boycott by the opposition, it had become rather clear that something very significant would be planned around Kumbh Mela.

This time around, the Kumbh and the general elections are coinciding, so the Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh is all set to take this to the international level. That is why the Ardh Kumbh, which will fall in the month of January next year, is being celebrated as Kumbh. Sources say that the RSS has taken the charge of the arrangement for the coming Kumbh.

Even members of Akhada Councils were not consulted for forming the authority. Nor did they have any representation in it at the time.

It is very strange for a state government to directly talk about using the CSR funds for Kumbh Mela. So far, the state governments have been taking it upon themselves the responsibility of maintaining law and order and providing various facilities during the Kumbh.

In 2013, the then minister incharge of the Maha Kumbh, Azam Khan, was lauded for efficient management of this massive religious congregation and he was even invited by Harvard University to deliver a lecture on this.

This time around, the Kumbh and the general elections are coinciding, so the Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh is all set to take this to the international level. That is why the Ardh Kumbh, which will fall in the month of January next year, is being celebrated as Kumbh. Sources say that the RSS has taken the charge of the arrangement for the coming Kumbh.

RSS leaders held a late night meeting at CM Yogi’s residence a few days ago. An influential leader of the RSS, Duttatrey Hosbole, state BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma and BJP’s general secretary Sunil Bansal also attended this meeting. And a detailed plan for the Kumbh mela was chalked out.

According to sources, surging anger against the BJP among the Dalits and OBCs was also discussed in the meeting, along with the coming general elections.

The RSS has emphasised that the occasion of Kumbh Mela must be used fully and with elaborate planning to promote the Hindutva agenda. After all, more than 12 crore devotees may attend this religious conclave. And the task to outsource its various responsibilities to big corporates by inviting the Corporate Social Responsibility funds has already begun.

(The article has been translated into English by Pragati Saxena).

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Published: 29 Jun 2018, 7:59 AM