Yogi’s Saffron Revolution

Raman Swamy

Before Adityanath became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the colour saffron used to denote renunciation. Not anymore. Today saffron is the symbol of the raging fire that purifies the mind and destroys ungodly practices and customs.

In six short weeks, the Yogi has sparked off a saffron revolution to stamp out social evils like cow slaughter and love jihad and enforce adherence to the dharmic virtues of duty, morality and faith that are the bedrock of vedic teachings.

Quick to express loyalty to the bhagwa movement, the Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has come out with an ingenious idea – to make saffron the colour of school uniforms in all educational institutions in UP. This would not only inculcate a spirit of religiosity and devotion to duty in young minds but would also ensure that the citizens of tomorrow are free of greed, lust and other evil instincts.

The Yogi has not yet agreed to the proposal perhaps because he realsies that it is too soon to expect universal acceptance among the 22 crore of people in the State. Already there are signs of a backlash to imposition of saffron governance. The mushrooming of numerous vigilante squads belonging to various saffron outfits are causing unforeseen problems by attacking innocent couples in parks and legitimate cattle transporters on highways.

A reverse situation arose last week in Agra, a group of fashion models from foreign countries were asked to remove their saffron scarves before entering the Taj Mahal. The models, who had come to India to participate in a prestigious international competition in New Delhi, had bought scarves and stoles from the holy city of Mathura on the way to Agra.

Not being allowed to enter the Taj Mahal complex without removing their saffron cloths created a piquant situation that snowballed into a serious law and order problem which remains unresolved even after a week. Activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal staged demonstrations outside the historic monument, which is not only the pride of India’s tourist attractions but also a universal symbol of love.

The Tourism Guild of Agra is already concerned about the steady decline in the number of foreign tourists visiting the Taj.  A number of factors are said to be responsible for the fall in visitor numbers – global recession, political instability, terror threat perception and demonetisation. If saffron politics and communal tension are added to this list it would be disastrous for the tourism industry.

Which is why the Union minister for culture and tourism Mahesh Sharma has since come out with a clarification, which would have been strange in any other context. He said: “There is no restriction on colour, religious design or inscriptions on the scarves or dresses of visitors coming to see the Taj Mahal”.

But this seems to have goaded the saffron flag waving street gangs and vigilante squads to further activism.

The agitation soon spread to other areas. Bajrang Dal activists manhandled a circle officer at Fatehpur Sikri, 36 kilometre from Agra. Protesters attacked the Sadar police station. The agitators also torched the motorcycle of a sub-inspector of police. The incident recorded in police diaries as a fallout of a “local dispute involving members of two communities”.

Hence violence involving over-zealous saffron organisations in various parts of Uttar Pradesh is proving to be an embarrassment for the Yogi. The last thing he wants is to earn the label of UP being a jungle raj. Even though saffron is the symbol of a mental revolution and a mass movement, it will more prudent to make haste slowly.

Vol. 49, No.45, May 14 - 20, 2017