By Kulsum Mustafa
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his senior ministers were literally caught on the wrong foot when they called on the deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya’s at his residence without their masks. It is mandatory in the state which has only recently lifted lockdown curbs to wear masks in public places and follow social distancing norms to control Corona Virus. There is stringent punishment for all those who violate these public safety laws.
In order to silence the media queries, an official statement had informed that the chief minister was visiting his deputy to bless his recently married son and daughter-in-law. But there was wild speculation that the entire exercise was a sheer appeasement visit’ and aimed at mending fences with Mauriya before the 2022 assembly elections in the state. Maurya hails from Other Backward Castes (OBC), which has a 41 percent vote share in UP’s electorate. At no cost can this be ignored in the caste-driven politics of Uttar Pradesh.
Allegedly there is no love lost between Maurya and Yogi, an upper caste. It is no hidden secret that the two do not see eye to eye the main reason being Maurya’s belief that he was the main contender for Chief Minister’s chair in the 2017 elections.
Maurya has expressed his displeasure openly at Yogi being the CM face for the 2022 elections and had spoken to the media that it would be the Central leadership that will make the decision on whom to project as CM candidate for the coming elections. Another cabinet minister in the Yogi government, Swami Prasad . Maurya (Turncoat from BSP) had also spoken on the same lines. Gauging the damage that these rebels could do to his image and vote bank Yogi agreed to stoop down and reach out to silence the rebels.
According to senior journalist and owner of popular eveninger 4 PM, Sanjay Sharma, the media was focusing on the meeting and how Yogi had to bend backward and cover the ‘200 meter distance’, between his residence and that of his deputy in order to sign a truce when they fell on this “breaking news’ of Yogi and team violating the pandemic protocol and not wearing masks as they sat close to each other and got photographed as comrades. Within minutes of Yogi’s visit, the social media was abuzz with quirky posts showing these photographs.
Incidentally in Bareilly, just 250 km from the state capital a bank security guard, shot at a railway employee Rathore in his early forties just because he was not wearing a mask.
“What punishment will Yogiji decide for himself and his colleagues who went with him without masks,? “ asks Sharma.