If not terror, it is a terrible sense of fright that rules the minds of the critics of UP Chief Minister Mayawati. The Press is not excluded.
Even after the elections were announced and model code of conduct came into force, UP'sInformation Department sent virtual show-cause notices to a number of freelance journalists asking why their accreditation should not be cancelled. They were also told to submit the write-ups that they had written during the past three months.
The step, according to the leader of a journalists? organisation, had been taken to instil fear among the journalists so that they do not write anything critical of the BSP government. The State government has reportedly found that since freelance journalists are not attached to any organisation, they are not easy to be put on leash.
The leader said that uncomfortable journalists are eased out through a threat to the managements. There are many instances, but he made a request not to mention specific cases because it might lead to further victimisation. ?Democratic process in the State has virtually been stalled.? Many journalists have suffered it. The managements do not ?sack? the journalists against whom the complaints are received from the government. They are told to resign.
This has a demonstrative effect. Journalists avoid critical writing. The Chief Minister is never criticised.
Asked why journalists do not seek an audience with the Chief Minister, the leader of another journalists? organisation said she does not meet anybody. She keeps off and functions through the bureaucracy. Even many political leaders are not granted audience.
The political leaders also live in the scare of the mighty Chief Minister. They are harassed on the sly. Nobody criticises her at least in the open. The administration knows how to arm-twist the critics. The Samajwadi Party members and leaders have been the particular targets. Others are also not spared. Even sometime back the mighty MP from Gorakhpur Mahant Aditya Nath was so humiliated that he broke into tears in the Lok Sabha.
That is not an isolated event. It happens every day. Even Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Railway Minister Lalu Yadav had to suffer it as the district administration refused permission to inaugurate a railway project.
Similar incidents happen with impunity. The BSP supremo has struck such a terror that her extravaganza is rarely reported. Neither any one protests against it.
The State is today known for all kinds of wasteful expenditures. These are being made in the name of dalit pride and beautification. The Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, the biggest in Lucknow, has been truncated to create some grotesque architecture. All over the State statues are being erected. It includes her own statues.
The State is now known for demolishing existing stadia and other structures to create structures that suits the whim of the Chief Minister.
In Noida, the picturesque green belt has virtually been destroyed to create tall running walls. Nobody knows the purpose. Flyovers are being built where possibly none is required.
Though not many roads are being laid, but iron grills are put either on the sides or at the centre of roads in the name of beautification.
A political leader said that the State is being dumped with ?iron, steel and bricks. Each contract has a cost and creates cut for those who matter?. The political leaders, journalists and all others discuss it in hushed tones but nobody dares challenge it.
Even the so-called Ganga Expressway is said to be created for this purpose and not for the sake of development of the State. The process of development has virtually been stalled in the State. It reels under severe power cut. But the State is not known to have undertaken a new power project.
Industries are finding it difficult to function. The industry and trade complain that even routine jobs are not done unless it is routed through the right quarters. The State government has raised VAT from 4 per cent to 12 per cent on many items. Nobody pays any heed to their representations.
The media in the state never raises the issues. The fear factor and allurement or threat of withdrawing advertisements does the trick.
(The writer is a senior journalist.)